The centrally sponsored Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme has utterly failed in achieving its founding objectives in the state. The scheme was supposed to improve the nutritional status of the primary and upper primary school children. However, the scheme has not been able to do so to date, raising serious questions over planning, implementation and management of the scheme.
Under the scheme, the selected schools were also supposed to provide an emergency medical plan to afford medical treatment to school children in case of any untoward incident in the school, and this too, the scheme has failed to achieve.
According to the CAG Audit Report-2016, one of the objectives of the MDM scheme was to improve the nutritional status of the primary and upper primary school children. It is required to provide necessary intervention such as regular health check-ups, supplementation of micro-nutrients, de-worming medicines, etc.
“No basic indicators or specific norms to monitor the incremental improvement in health levels in the children (height and weight etc.) for requirement of nutritional status of the children were set by the Department to serve as a benchmark. No action was taken to ascertain the improvement in nutritional status,” the report said.
The scheme guidelines provide for appropriate intervention for micro-nutrient supplementation and de-worming through administration of six monthly doses for de-worming and vitamin-A supplementation, weekly supplement of iron Folic Acid, Zinc and other appropriate supplementation depending on common deficiencies.
Audit, according to the report, noticed that no health-care facility had been provided to the children in the selected schools.
“Only during September-October 2014, two tablets viz. Folic acid and Albandazole numbering 18560 and 768 respectively were provided to the students in two schools out of 180 test-checked schools. Reasons for non-provision thereof were not intimated by the Department,” the report read.
There was no regular health check-ups and micro-nutrients / de-worming medicines etc. provided to the children, the report said.
The MDM guidelines (July 2013), provides for an emergency medical plan to afford medical treatment to school children in case of any untoward incident in the school, however, the Audit observed that in none of the test-checked schools such emergency medical plan was in existence which was accepted by the schools in their reply.
As against the requirements under the MDM guidelines regarding services out of Management Monitoring and Evaluation (MME) funds for procurement of weighing machines and height recorders, in 90 test-checked schools of Jammu Division.
“Weighing machines and height recorders were not provided. However, weighing machines were available in eight schools in Kashmir Division but had not been put to use,” report informed.
The report stated that concerned ZEOs/In charge schools stated that the nutritional levels of children had not been ascertained.
“The Joint Director (Planning) of Administrative Department stated that no parameters/modalities to as certain improvement in children’s nutritional status had been fixed by the Department.”
The programme was required to be implemented in close convergence with several other developmental programmes which included convergence with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) for providing necessary intervention for improvement in nutritional status and health. In this case, the Audit noticed that no such convergence with NRHM has been established.