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Mid-day meals: ‘Set up kitchens at talukas levels’

A report on the same will be prepared by the education officials and submitted to the school education and sports department by September 15.

Written by Dipti Sonawala | Mumbai |
Updated: April 8, 2014 4:01:32 pm

Members of Maharashtra State Secondary and Higher Secondary School Principals’ Association (MSSHSSPA) who are the part of the committee appointed by the education department to look into concerns over the mid-day meal scheme have recommended centralised kitchens at taluka levels.

The recommendations were put forth by the members during their meeting with top education officials on Friday. A report on the same will be prepared by the education officials and submitted to the school education and sports department by September 15.

As many as 35,000 schools had stopped serving mid-day meals in the state after the principals’ association decided on August 16 to boycott the scheme as they felt that taking responsibility for the quality of meals interfered with their academic duties. On August 20,the education department formed a committee to look into the matter.

The committee included director of primary education Mahavir Mane,joint director of primary education Govind Nandede and deputy directors of the education department Mahesh Palkar and Dinesh Tembkar,along with principals and members of MSSHSSPA and other teachers’ associations across the state.

In the aftermath of the Bihar tragedy,schools are against serving khichdi as the staple mid-day meal because principals fear strong punishment if anything goes wrong. The association also claims children do not like khichdi and much of it is wasted. “The chief reason for the Bihar tragedy was an absolute lack of monitoring on the part of block authorities there. It goes without saying that a programme on this scale requires meticulous quality control and stringent monitoring systems. How can school principals and teachers take up this task? This should definitely be given to self-help groups or NGOs. Hence,we have strongly recommended a centralised kitchen at taluka levels,” said Prashant Redij,member of MSSHSSPA from Mumbai.

“The committee is expected to submit its report with its new recommendations and guidelines on or before September 15. The committee will also investigate complaints about the quality of food being served and concerns that large numbers of eligible children are not covered by the scheme. After that,new guidelines will be finalised,” said Arun Thorat,MSSHSSPA member from Pune.

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