KOLHAPUR: An inspection by the city mayor has revealed that the mid-day meal provided at one of the civic schools was not cooked properly. Mayor Hasina Faras suggested them to make sure that the same mistake does not happen again. “The food should be soft and properly cooked, as it is served to children below 14 years of age,” she said.
She said that the poor infrastructure, unavailability of toilet facility and less number of students are some of the other problems the corporation schools were facing.
The mayor, along with the civic officials, has launched the surprise inspections on Thursday to understand the real condition of the mid-day meal scheme and the infrastructure status in the 59 schools run by the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation.
When contacted, Faras told TOI, “We want to get to know the present condition of the schools. On Thursday, we visited a few schools and on Friday we continued the same.
Faras said she had interacted with the teachers and got to know about their issues. They have also tasted the food served under the mid-day meal scheme, she said.
“We want to change this scenario. We will be involving public participation to make sure that the corporation schools get the best possible facilities,” she said, adding that organisations like Rotary are willing to participate in the activity and provide the basic facilities to the schools.
An official from the KMC’s education board said that total 186 schools (including corporation schools) served mid-day meal in the city. There are around 15,000 beneficiaries in class I to V and around 23,000 beneficiaries in class VI to VII.
The mid-day meal scheme was introduced in the state in 1995 to stop the declining number of students in schools. Earlier, the scheme was ‘take home’ type but in 2001, after a Supreme Court instruction, the authorities started providing cooked food under the scheme.
Last year, in order to promote transparency in the scheme at government-aided schools, the state government had made keeping online record of the ration used for the meals mandatory.
Meanwhile, last week, the state education department had asked school principals to temporarily bear the expenses of the scheme at their institutions. The directive has been issued as the contract of the supplier for the scheme has not been renewed and a replacement is being sought.
The move has not gone down well with most school heads who questioned the rationale behind asking them to bear the financial burden that runs up to Rs 1 lakh per month for big schools. Some doubted their ability to raise the amount and said they would have to borrow food material from local grocers.
Over 86,000 schools in the state are covered under the central scheme, which ensures hot cooked mid-day meals to children from classes I to VIII of government and government-aided schools, special training centres and other institutions supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
Timely reimbursement of dues towards the purchase of vegetables and cooking fuel has always been an issue with the mid-day meal scheme. Now, school authorities fear they would be in a fix if they are not reimbursed in time. Unfortunately, students benefiting from the scheme could suffer.