HRD ministry pulls up Punjab education dept for delay in fund transfer, lack of monitoring | punjab | Hindustan Times
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HRD ministry pulls up Punjab education dept for delay in fund transfer, lack of monitoring

The Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) has pulled up the Punjab education department for delay in release of central funds to schools, less coverage and lack of proper monitoring under the centrally-sponsored Mid-day Meal Scheme.

punjab Updated: Apr 17, 2017 09:59 IST
Navneet Sharma
Students being served mid-day meal in Ludhiana.
Students being served mid-day meal in Ludhiana.(JS Grewal/HT)

The Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) has pulled up the Punjab education department for delay in release of central funds to schools, less coverage and lack of proper monitoring under the centrally-sponsored Mid-day Meal Scheme.

The ministry raised these gaps in the implementation of National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education, popularly known as the MDM Scheme, during a discussion on the state’s fund requirement for financial year 2017-18 last month. The department has sought Rs 170 crore for providing nutritious food to 16.67 lakh children of primary and upper classes in 20,000-odd schools across the state under the programme funded by the central and state governments in the ratio of 60:40.

TIME LAG IN FUND RELEASE

While the ministry has approved its fund requirement proposal for the most part, it took up the delay in transfer of funds from the state head office to schools. There was a delay of three months in transfer of central assistance to schools for ad hoc grant last year. It also pointed out that transfer of funds from subsequent instalments of central assistance were delayed. Earlier, a joint review mission of the Centre had also called attention to time lag in fund release.

However, an education department official attributed the delay to lengthy processes and paperwork, as sanction from the state finance department was required. “If there is delay in fund transfer, schools serve food by utilising funds available for different activities. Also, the finance department has now delegated the authority to sanction funds to the education department,” he said.

FIVE BEST PRACTICES
  • All 57 food samples taken from eight districts found okay
  • Mothers also cook and serve mid-day meals
  • LPG used for cooking in all schools
  • Corporates, community contributing in kind to improve facilities
  • Special effort to inculcate habit of hand washing among children

NEED FOR DAILY MONITORING

Another issue of concern raised by the ministry is the gap between enrolment of children in primary and upper primary classes and their coverage under the programme. While 86% children of primary classes (1 to 5) were provided mid-day meals on an average between April 1 and December 31 last year, the percentage of children of upper primary classes (5 to 8) who availed food was even lower at 83, according to a ministry note.

A state official said the gap could be due to absenteeism, mid-session dropout or some discrepancy in enrolment, but reasons would have to be looked at closely. The ministry also took up the need for daily monitoring of the programme through the automated monitoring system. While the state’s SMS-based automated monitoring system earned it appreciation, only 32% of the schools on an average are making daily data entries through it. As per the report, only 6,381 of the 19,932 school sent data on March 8 showing that 73% of the enrolled children consumed the mid-day meal.

While 67% schools in Nawanshahr sent the monitoring reports, only 8% in Tarn Taran complied despite the insistence on better supervision.

The scheme was launched in 1995 to provide nutritious food, increase enrolment and retention and tone up the learning abilities of school children, especially those belonging poor and downtrodden sections of the society.