NEW DELHI: Midday meal in over 11.4 lakh schools across the country will now be monitored regularly by resource coordinators specially assigned with the task of checking the quality and quantity of food being served to children in government schools.
These resource coordinators - teachers given the additional responsibility for the task or NGO personnel chosen by the state governments - will have between six and 10 schools assigned to each of them. These appointees will be expected to visit schools and send their updates to the Centre.
Senior officials in the school education department of the Union Human Resources Development Ministry said the Centre has already written to states to appoint nearly two lakh such co-ordinators to monitor MDM and Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and the project will start by November.
Currently, there is no provision for taking feedback from a neutral party on the scheme, through which meals are provided to nearly 10 crore school children.
“We are in the process of developing a mobile app through which the co-ordinators and also principals will be asked to update the status of food being served in schools every day,” said an official.
“MDM irregularities are mostly because there is hardly any monitoring of schools in most states,” he added. “Principals are asked to update us on MDM through SMSes but that has not served the purpose as there is no neutral monitoring.”
The Centre has also decided to start a random social audit of the scheme, starting this month. For the audit, central teams are being constituted that will also comprise educationists from respective states and district authorities.
“The teams will visit at least two schools in every district but the choice of schools will be random,” another official said. “We are hoping to complete the exercise by January.”
The move by the Union HRD Ministry comes even as a report by the district magistrate has said the Mirzapur incident where the report of children being served just roti and salt in a government school had surfaced recently was a “conspiracy” hatched by the principal.
“The report is yet to come but prima facie it looks like the principal was reluctant to join the school in a remote area despite a transfer order had planned the incident to malign the district education officer,” a source said.