Many states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra
reaped the benefits of mid-day meal scheme by assiduously and strictly implementing the instructions outlined by government of India, which resulted high enrollment of children in primary schools.
However, two conspicuous defaulter states Bihar
and Uttar Pradesh, which have a high rate of illiteracy and malnourishment, lag behind in providing mid-day meal to school children. Every sixth malnourished child in India
lives in U.P and every second adolescent girl is anemic. Uttar Pradesh
has an abysmal performance in terms of following the instructions of mid-day meal. If we delve into the issue, we will find that there are number of districts which are oblivious to even the recommendations outlined in the scheme. And one of these districts is Shahjahanpur situated in western Uttar Pradesh. In three primary schools of village Chinour in Shahjahanpur the directions regarding mid-day meal scheme were not being followed. Though the meal menu is painted on the school walls, the meal was not served according to the menu. There was no storage house in any of the three schools whereas it is recommended that every school should have storage house. ’Atarikit Kakash’ (extra rooms) in schools have been turned into makeshift kitchens.
When Kamla Mishra the principal of Poorv Madhvik Vidyalya was asked about the trained staff which is recruited for the purpose of providing meals she was oblivious to the fact. She said, “We are not aware of this direction”.
According to the Central government, every school must have a trained staff. Supply of drinking water was not satisfactory as hand-pumps which are the source of reliable water supply for cooking purpose were battered and its vicinity was full of cow dung and feces, which can cause life-threatening diseases. The recent incidence in which 30 students were hospitalised after having lunch under the same scheme in Kanpur
districts proves that the system and concerned authority is riddled with irresponsibility and loopholes.
Mid-day meal which is the world’s largest food programme which envisages ameliorating and universalising primary education seems to be the liability of concerned authority. If things continue like this, the state which is the most populous in India and which can have a laudable contribution in human resources will always be a defaulter. The recent incidents in which 30 students were hosptialised is a stigma on UP government.