The Mid Day Meal Scheme was launched in August 1995 to boost the primary education by increasing enrollment, retention and attendance simultaneously impacting on the nutrition levels of children. As per the Mid Day Meal program, cooked meals with minimum 300 calories and 8-12 grams of proteins and adequate quantities of micro-nutrients.
What are the nutritional norms of the Mid Day Meal Scheme?
How much budget is spent in supporting the Mid Day Meal Scheme?
What is the current status of the Mid Day Meal Scheme?
Despite the existence of the Mid Day Meal Scheme over two decades and initiatives of the government in making several improvements in the contents of the scheme over the years, the actual implementation of the scheme suffers from various shortcomings and lapses across the board. The last performance audit of the scheme undertaken during 2007 -08 raised many red flags such as over-reporting of enrollment figures, cases of leakages, financial indiscipline, poor quality of meals and inadequate monitoring etc., which still persist.
The Report contains significant results of the performance audit on the implementation of the Mid Day Meal Scheme in 27 states (except Mizoram ) and seven U T s, where the scheme was under operation.
The audit findings, while are not entirely surprising, given how the govt. implements such schemes, it is definitely shocking to learn that a program as critical as this which is to ensure supply of nutritious food to the kids to encourage a healthy enrollment at school, is a complete let down. From supplying bad quality food grains to cooking food at unhygienic places to serving food in bare hands to supplying lesser quantity of nutrients the audit has found all these shocking facts.
A high level summary of the audit findings
- Quality of the food supplied to the kids
- The enrollment of children had a steady decline over the years from 14.69 crore children in 2009-10 to 13.87 crore children in 2013-14
- Foodgrains in the quantity of meals supplied to the children was less than the prescribed quantity of 100/150 gms
- One of the reasons attributed to this was that children consumed less quantity of meal than what had been prescribed
- The MDM Scheme is to encourage poor children, belonging to disadvantaged sections, to attend school more regularly.
- Most states however, did not have any criteria to identify poor children belonging to disadvantaged sections.
- In most of the test checked schools, prescribed inspections were not carried out to ensure Fair Average Quality of foodgrains and quality of midday meal served.
- Most schools sample checked in audit were lacking in infrastructural facilities like kitchen sheds, proper utensils, availability of drinking water facility etc.
- There were numerous instances of food being prepared in open and unhygienic conditions exposing children to health hazards.
- The percentage of actual number of children availing MDM as gathered from various sources was consistently lower than the furnished by the states to the Ministry for claiming cost of foodgrains and cooking cost.
- Audit evidenced an institutionalised exaggeration of figures regarding students availing MDMs
- Irregular diversion or theft of foodgrains
- Hence, out of 2854 test checked schools in 26 states/union territories
- 931 schools did not have pucca kitchen sheds
- 648 did not have kitchen devices/utensils
- 1389 did not have LP G connections
- 396 schools did not have drinking water facility
- Submission of inflated transportation costs
- Fudging of data pertaining to supply of foodgrains, all pointing to widespread leakages and defalcations, leading to losses and misappropriations in the scheme