Principals and teachers across schools are relieved with the state governments decision to exempt them from the responsibility to implement the mid-day meal programmes. The move,however,has also invited criticism from activists and academicians.
Under the government-run scheme,added responsibility was given to teachers and principals to supervise the implementation of the scheme. These included placing orders for food,unloading food from vehicles in school premises,maintaining records of stock,distributing the meal and checking their quality before it was served to students.
A PIL filed by Maharashtra Primary Teachers Association claimed that the free meal programme in its current form increased the workload of teachers.
Principals and teachers felt that it is unfair for the state government to direct them to supervise cooking and serving of the mid-day meal. They feel that the government must take the responsibility instead.
It takes a toll on our academic routine. They have to come up with a solution in which principals and teachers are not forced to take up the responsibility of mid-day meal and later be blamed for lapses. We are happy that they have taken such a step, said Arun Thorat,secretary of Maharashtra state secondary and higher secondary school principals association.
The PIL argued these responsibilities increased their workload due to which the quality of education suffers. Under Section 27 of the Right to Education Act,non-teaching work cannot be allotted to teachers and principals except that of census,elections and disaster relief.
Additional Government Pleader (AGP) Abhinandan Vagyani told a bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Reveti Mohite-Dhere who were hearing the PIL on December 18,that the rules would be framed in January in a way that the responsibility to supervise and implement the scheme would be taken away from principals and teachers.
However according to academicians and educational activists,whatever happens during the school hours is the responsibility of teachers and principals. The agency which cooks and supplies the food should be verified. The teachers can take responsibility in turns so that they are not overburdened, said Basanti Roy,former Mumbai divisional secretary of state board.
Mangala Shridhar,a retired teacher said,Teachers should take the responsibility and there are many ways in which they can do so. However the sad part is they dont want to do it. They are the ones who are present in the school. How can they ask state government to take up the responsibility?