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CAG picks holes in mid-day meal plan

There has not been much improvement in enrolment of students in primary classes. What’s more, it has affected teaching and learning in schools.
None | By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON MAR 10, 2008 02:52 AM IST

The national Programme for Nutritional Support to Primary Education, popularly known as the Mid-day Meal Scheme, was started to draw kids to schools, but it appears to have failed to show results in Haryana.

There has not been much improvement in enrolment of students in primary classes. What’s more, it has affected teaching and learning in schools.

These are some of the findings of the performance audit of the programme conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for the period between 2002 and 2007 in the state.

The report, which was laid on the table of the State Assembly today, has brought out deficiencies in financial management, non-supply of meals to students on all school days, supply of inadequate quantities to students, lack of infrastructure and little attention towards hygiene.

Incidentally, the Centre has recently decided to expand the scope of the scheme to provide mid-day meal to children of Classes VI to VIII also in government schools all over the country. The programme aimed at supporting the universalisation of primary education by increasing enrolment and bringing the dropout rate to a minimum and attendance to a maximum level, but there was no significant change in the enrolment of students between 2002 and 2007. Besides, the auditors noticed variations in the number of students enrolled in the records maintained by the Department of Elementary Education, District Elementary Education Officers and the actual number worked out by them in Jind, Karnal and Yamunanagar districts.

"The matter is a cause of concern as in the absence of reliable data, adequate planning and effective implementation of the scheme is hampered. There has not been any improvement in retention as the dropout rate has remained almost the same in all the years," according to the report.

As for the supply of inadequate quantity of meals to children, the scrutiny of records in the districts of Hisar, Jind, Karnal and Yamunanagar showed that the quantity of foodgrains per child per school day dropped from 120 grams in 2002-03 to 42 grams in 2006-07.

The CAG report stated that the Department had reported to the Government of India in March 2007 that the programme had been implemented in all the 1,106 Alternative and Innovative Education Centres, but a test-check of the records of Hisar, Karnal and Yamunanagar districts showed that of the 403 such centres, provision for mid-day meal was not made in 364 centres with an enrolment of 9,794 students.

Also, the revised recipe prescribed by the Government of India in September 2006 to provide 450 calories to children had not been started in several schools.

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