Two years on, Kashmir education dept fails to outsource Mid Day meal scheme

Srinagar: The school education department has failed to outsource Mid Day Meals (MDM) scheme at schools in Kashmir to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
In 2017, the J&K government moved a proposal to outsource the scheme and relieve teachers from additional workload of serving meals to students. The scheme launched in the erstwhile state in 2004 was aimed at encouraging universalisation of primary education by increasing enrollment, retention and attendance.
But it has hit overall performance of government schools as teachers have to do menial job of serving meals in absence of staff.
It was learnt that several NGOs had approached the office of director to run the scheme in last two years but nothing has happened so far.
Several teachers, Kashmir Reader spoke to, admitted that running the scheme through them has affected their work.
“Instead of teaching the students, the assigned teacher have to indulge in more of a business activity at schools,” said Irshad Ahmad, a teacher posted at a middle school in north Kashmir’s Sopore who serves meals under the scheme.
Besides, teachers have to buy stock often on credit as the department clears funds from time to time basis.
“The funds are delayed by 3-4 months on a regular basis. We have to pay from our own pockets till bills are cleared after submitting utilisation certificates,” said a teacher.
An official said they were checking the “pros and cons” of outsourcing the scheme.
“It is not that easy,” he said,” The plan is not to outsource the scheme at once but on pilot basis.”
The NGOs, according to the official, have to be credible so that they can be entrusted with the job for which work is underway.
He said that the scheme could be outsourced in the next financial year.
Director School Education Kashmir, Dr Mohammad Younis could not be contacted for comments.

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