1 Oct : National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (commonly known as Mid-day Meal Scheme) today is the largest school nutritional programme in the world covering nearly 12 crore children in more than 9.5 lakh primary schools/ Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS)/Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) centres. The Scheme provides a hot cooked meal of a minimum 300 calories and 8-12 gms of protein.
This scheme was revised with effect from September, 2004. Dry rations were replaced with a cooked nourishing school meal, funded mainly by the Central Government. Central assistance is provided to States / UTs for the following components:
i) Free food grains of 100 gms. (Rice/wheat) per child per school day
ii) Cooking Assistance @ Rs. 1.58 /- for Primary and Rs. 2.10 for Upper Primary per child, per school day.
iii) Reimbursement of transportation cost @ Rs. 125 per Quintal.
iv) Assistance for Management, Monitoring and Evaluation @ 1.8% of (i) to (iii).
From October 2007, the scheme has been extended to children studying in classes VI to VIII in 3,479 educationally backward blocks (EBBs) in the country. From this financial year, the programme is covering all children studying at Upper Primary stage in all areas across the country. 9.7 crore children at Primary stage and 4.20 crore children at Upper Primary stage are expected to be covered under the programme during the year 2008-09.
The Scheme, in its first year of implementation, has led to the following positive outcomes:
• Elimination of classroom hunger.
• Increase in enrollment, more significantly of girls.
• Surge in daily attendance, particularly of girls and children from poorer sections.
• Improvement in retention, learning ability and achievement.
• Curbing of teacher absenteeism.
• Narrowing of social distance.
• A rallying point for parents’ involvement in governance of schools.
In a new path-breaking initiative, it has been decided to empower mothers of 12 crore school children covered under the scheme to supervise the preparation and serving of the meal. Mothers are being encouraged to come forward and take turn to supervise the feeding of the children, thus ensuring regularity and quality of the meal. This initiative is aimed at giving mothers a voice and a role and greater ownership of the programme. The state has been requested to launch a concerted campaign for mass mobilisation of mothers.