The government has once again failed to ensure implementation of a crucial scheme that would have otherwise proved beneficial for the students community in the state.
Reports pouring in from various areas of the state are pointing out that all is not well with the Directorate of School Education as it has not been able to implement the centrally sponsored scheme, Mid-Day Meals (MDM).
The Midday Meal Scheme is a school meal programme of the Government of India designed to improve the nutritional status of school-age children nationwide. The programme supplies free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government aided, local body, Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and National Child Labour Project schools run by the ministry of labour. Serving 120,000,000 children in over 1,265,000 schools and Education Guarantee Scheme centres, it is the largest such programme in the world.
However, after the failures and subsequent reprisal by the apex court the state education department will be deputing a team of officials to Himachal Pradesh for a study tour.
The tour according to officials was planned in wake of the Supreme Court guidelines wherein all the states have been asked to make all expenditures of the scheme available online as well register all the schools on the website.
As per Supreme Court guidelines, the scheme has to provide all details online along with the registration of students as well as the expenditures. For this the department is lagging behind and worse enough, the department has already given an affidavit saying that the scheme is being implemented online.
However, on the face of it, the DSEK has a huge liability towards Food Corporation of India (FCI) against supply of food grains for schools.
The MDM is proving to be a big failure on various counts. The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) under which the MDM scheme falls was formulated and termed as among the prestigious scheme with the sole purpose of providing nutritious food to the children between the age of 6–8 years belonging to the BPL segment or in other words-the poorest of the poor.
The scheme envisaged that nutritious food was needed to the under-nourished children so that when they grow, they are healthy people capable of doing hard work for the nation and be a support for their families as well.
However, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir all such things take time to actually spread at the ground level. If officials sources within the ICDS department are to be believed the purchase of various food items has been put on hold after the case of supplying substandard food items including wheat products, Dalia and Suji was reported in South Kashmir.
The delay in purchase has hit Aganwadi centres across the southern district. Even though in October of 2015 government had constituted an enquiry into alleged irregularities and supplying substandard wheat products of Rajdhani brand to various Aganwadi centres.
Subsequently, the enquiry committee inspected Aganwadi centers and lifted samples from different Aganwadi centers. Around six centres were temporarily closed down after they were found serving children with items unfit for consumption.
However, the enquiry couldn’t probe allegations as the supplies were already consumed.
This is the way the schemes are implemented in the state especially in Kashmir Valley as officials here feel that they can escape the responsibility that comes with such flagship programmes. However, this feel among the officials has to go and new standards need to be set to implement these schemes.