TNPSC Thervupettagam

Midday Meal Scheme – Part 3

September 18 , 2023 305 days 1558 0

(இதன் தமிழ் வடிவத்திற்கு இங்கே சொடுக்கவும்)

National Programme on Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) (Midday Meal Scheme)

Anemia Reduction

  • The MDMS's provision of iron-rich meals has contributed to a reduction in Anaemia among school children.
  • According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data, the prevalence of Anaemia among children aged 6-59 months decreased from 70.1% in 2005-06 to 59.7% in 2015-16.
  • While this decline can't be solely attributed to the MDMS, it aligns with the scheme's efforts to provide balanced meals.

Underweight Children

  • The MDMS's nutritional support has led to a decrease in the percentage of underweight children.
  • The NFHS-4 (2015-16) data showed that the percentage of children under the age of five who were underweight was 35.7%, down from 42.5% in NFHS-3 (2005-06).
  • While multiple factors contribute to this decline, the MDMS's nutritional contributions likely played a role.

Case Study: Tamil Nadu

  • Tamil Nadu's commitment to the MDMS is worth highlighting.
  • The state's early and robust implementation has yielded positive results.
  • A World Bank study indicated that the scheme contributed to better nutrition and improved learning outcomes in the state.
  • Tamil Nadu's model emphasizes community involvement, with local women's self-help groups playing a crucial role in meal preparation and distribution.

Challenges

Malnutrition threat

  • According to the National Family Health Survey-5, the levels of child malnutrition have gotten worse in a number of states across the nation.
  • According to the recently released Global Nutrition Report (GNR, 2021), India has made no progress on Anaemia and childhood wasting.
  • Over half of Indian women in the age group 15-49 years are anemic.
  • As girls in India finish school, get married and have children all in just a few years so school-based interventions can really help.
  • Nearly 50% of severely wasted children under the age of five and 30% of stunted children worldwide reside in India.

Global Hunger Index (GHI)

  • India is placed 94th out of 107 nations in the GHI 2020.
  • India has slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries.
  • India is placed 107th out of 121 nations in the GHI 2023.
  • India has a "severe" hunger problem.

Poor food quality

  • Because large quantities of food must be produced and distributed to pupils.
  • There is a high possibility that the food contains worms or is of poor quality.
  • There have been incidents where ordinary chapatis were supplied with salt, milk was contaminated with water, food poisoning occurred, etc.

Covid-19

  • Covid-19 has posed significant risks to children's rights to nutrition and good health.
  • Mid-Day Meals have been affected by the statewide lockdown, which has hindered access to other necessities.
  • It is particularly for girl students who experience more discrimination at home, they are more likely to drop out of school as a result of the closures.

Food waste

  • Due to poor food quality, many students may not consume their meals and instead toss them away, resulting in food waste.

Money defrauding

  • Fake enrolments are on the rise as a result of the supply of the mid-day meal plan, which causes a financial dilemma.

Quality Control

  • Ensuring the consistent food quality and hygiene is a challenge due to inadequate kitchen facilities and storage.
  • In some instances, it is lead to lack of proper hygiene practices which have led to subpar food quality.
  • This can result in meals that are unappetizing and potentially unsafe for consumption.

Infrastructure

  • Many schools lack proper kitchens and dining spaces, impacting meal preparation and distribution.
  • Many schools in remote areas lack dedicated kitchens, leading to meals being prepared in makeshift spaces.
  • This compromises food safety and hygiene standards, impacting the overall quality of meals.

Distribution Delays

  • Logistical issues can lead to delayed meal distribution, affecting children's regular nutritional intake.
  • Some reports have emerged of delays in meal distribution due to the logistical challenges.
  • In some cases, meals meant for mid-day consumption were served much later in the afternoon, affecting children's regular eating patterns.

Caste Bias and Discrimination

  • Food is central to the caste system, so in many schools, children are made to sit separately according to their caste status.

PM POSHAN

  • The revamped scheme has been launched for 5 years, from 2021-22 to 2025-26.
  • The government hopes it will benefit 11.80 crore children studying in 11.20 lakh schools across India.
  • The central and state governments pool resources in a ratio of 60:40 for general category states.
  • This would be 90:10 for special category states, as it was before.
  • The POSHAN Abhiyaan has been shaped in part by the NITI Aayog.

Major Changes introduced to the scheme

  • Apart from providing the nutritional meals to schoolchildren, the revamped scheme will also focus on monitoring the nutritional levels of school children.
  • A nutritional expert will be appointed in each school to ensure that the BMI (Body Mass Index), weight levels and hemoglobin levels of the students are monitored.
  • In districts with a high prevalence of Anaemia, the special provisions for nutritional items would be made.
  • There could also be cooking competitions held under the scheme to promote ethnic cuisine.
  • It will be innovative menus based on local ingredients.
  • The scheme is proposed to be extended to students studying in pre-primary or Bal Vatikas of Government and Government-aided primary schools.
  • The concept of ‘Tithi Bhojan’ will be encouraged extensively.
  • Tithi Bhojan is a community participation programme in which people provide special food to children on special occasions/festivals.
  • The Government is promoting development of School Nutrition Gardens in schools to give children first-hand experience with nature and gardening.
  • The harvest of these gardens will be used in the scheme to provide additional micro nutrients.
  • Social Audit of the scheme is made mandatory in all the districts.
  • Special provision is made for providing supplementary nutrition items to children in aspirational districts and districts with high prevalence of Anemia.
  • Involvement of Farmers Producer Organizations and Women Self Help Groups in implementation of the scheme will be encouraged.
  • Use of locally grown traditional food items for a fillip to local economic growth will be encouraged.
  • Field visits for progress monitoring and inspections will be facilitated for students of eminent Universities/Institutions.

Way forward

  • Bihar’s Bettiah district and thane district of Maharashtra have employed mothers as quality monitors of mid day meal food served.
  • It has produced good results.
  • This should be replicated in the rest of the country.
  • Seeking the help of corporates is an easy way out.
  • It is opening the door to a system of contractors.
  • Public private partnership must be encouraged for better facilities.
  • Cooks should be well paid, so that they work with interest and commitment.
  • There should be proper provision of LPG, kitchen and store room for Mid-Day Meal preparation.
  • Ensure timely transfer of funds and good grains to schools is a must.
  • The quality of food grains and cooked meals must be checked regularly and all complaints regarding the quality must be solved urgently.
  • For intergenerational benefits, school meals must be expanded and improved.
  • School-based treatments can be quite beneficial.
  • The Government should remove the loopholes in mid-day meal scheme.
  • Establishing robust monitoring mechanisms is vital for maintaining the scheme's integrity.
  • Regular inspections, feedback loops involving parents and communities, and the use of technology can enhance transparency and accountability.
  • When stakeholders actively participate in monitoring, it becomes easier to identify and rectify issues promptly.

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