Maintain Nutritional Standards

Maintain Nutritional Standards
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The administration seems to be losing coverage of schools under midday meals scheme, despite claims to the contrary. A comparison of the annual work plans and budget for National Programme of Nutritional Support to Education, commonly known as Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme, reveals that from a coverage of 23166 schools with an estimated roll of 1068831 in the year, 2014-15 the numbers have dipped to 17621 schools with a coverage of 423175 (average) children in 2016. It may be noted that the midday meal scheme was conceived and designed to improve the nutritional condition of school going children of a certain economic status. On the face of it, it would appear that the scheme is floundering in Jammu and Kashmir on account of its logistics. That is, in its implementation and execution. In all fairness, the nature of the scheme, on account of its sheer scale, reach and size, means that it is not easy to administer. But, all said and done, this cannot be an excuse for the laxity in the scheme. It is a statement of the obvious that children who are enrolled in government schools are usually from the less privileged strata and segment of society. As such, both their educational and nutritional needs, among other things, get compromised to an extent. Adequate nutrition is not only important for the growth and development of the body but also the mind. It therefore is imperative that children get enough nutrition for their comprehensive and holistic development. While the midday meal scheme recognizes this but it would appear that its administration and therefore logistics leaves much to be desired, compromising in the process not only the basic thrust of the scheme but also the nutritional status and condition of children. It then behooves upon the administration to improve, improvise and tighten up the logistics and thereby the administration of the scheme. While it has a two tiered model of administration which includes the decentralized and the centralized one, but obviously given the regression in statistics, more needs to be done. Perhaps one starting point would be to talk to the managers of the scheme to suss out and assess the particular and peculiar problems in implementing the scheme and address these. Another would be to tighten up monitoring and accountability to ensure that the scheme does not flounder. Children’s health is important and all efforts should be made to ensure that their nutritional health and standards do not suffer.