The Leaflet

| @theleaflet_in | August 27,2019

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ATIONAL Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a detailed report about the status of the midday meal scheme across Uttar Pradesh within four weeks.

Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports that children are being served salt and rotis as midday meal at a government run primary school, NHRC sent a notice to Chief Secretary Uttar Pradesh government on Monday.

A video showing school children being served rotis and salt in their midday meal at Siyur Primary School under Jamalpur block of Mirzapur, which came in circulation online a couple of days ago, has evoked widespread criticism and condemnation. The clip showed a woman distributing rotis and another woman giving salt to children as the midday meal at the school.

“The Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. The Commission would like to know about the status of the Mid-Day-Meal Scheme across the state in case of government and Government assisted primary schools about the quality of food and the food items are normally being provided to the children according to the Mid-Day-Meal scheme from the state government,” a statement issued by NHRC stated, after claiming that “Reportedly, the authorities have suspended two teachers, apparently in an immediate damage control exercise.”

Observing that the contents of the media reports were “shocking and disgraceful”, NHRC said that apparently children are not getting nutritious food despite the midday meal scheme. “It is the duty of the teacher in the government school to follow the scheme of Mid-Day-meal in letter and spirit instead of indulge in poor practice of not providing nutritious food according to the scheme.”

The rights panel further observed that in the year 2001, the Supreme Court passed an order stated that a basic entitlement of every child in every Government and Government assisted primary schools with a prepared midday meal with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein each day of school for a minimum of 200 days. “The government of India in consonance with the objectives set forth by the Supreme Court has designed to improve the school meal programme under the Mid-Day-Meal Scheme by providing nutritious food to the school age children nationwide,” it mentioned.

Maintaining that a majority of the population in India is still unable to get at least one complete square meal a day, it further said, “the scheme of Mid-Day-Meal has been framed to liberate the underprivileged children from the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy by serving them sanctified and nutritious Mid-Day-Meal.”

Citing the objectives of the scheme, it explained that the scheme was aimed at “improving improving the nutritional status of children thereby reducing malnutrition. Attracting children from disadvantaged sections, especially girls from Dalits and Adivasi tribes to school, thereby increasing attendance, reducing dropout rates and promoting women empowerment through literacy.”

It underscored that as per norms under the flagship nutrition scheme, pulses, rice, rotis, vegetables with fruits and milk on certain days are to be served to school going children.

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