Bhubaneswar: In a bid to ensure nutritious food for high schools students, the state government Monday urged Centre to include Class IX and X students of all government schools under the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme.
Inaugurating a two-day national workshop on MDM here, school and mass education minister Badri Narayan Patra proposed the inclusion of high school students under the food scheme from next academic year. At present, students between Class I and Class VIII get MDM in all government-run schools. If the proposal is implemented, another 2 lakh students will get the MDM benefits.
As many as 6,346 private schools including Sishu Mandir, Vivekananda schools should also be brought under the cover of MDM scheme, he said. “As very poor students study in such institutes, they are likely to be covered under the scheme,” Patra told reporters after the meeting. The minister further requested the Centre to increase the unit cost of MDM and honorarium of cooks and helpers engaged in the scheme.
The state government further urged the Centre to set up a laboratory in the state to test the quality of food being provided to the school children.
At present only `4.58 is given to a primary school student while the amount for an upper primary school student is
Rs 6.83. This is insufficient to provide nutritious food to children, Patra said, adding the Centre must look into the matter.
School and mass education secretary PK Mohapatra highlighted the innovative steps taken by Orissa to strengthen the MDM system which includes SMS-based monitoring, MDM contingency plan, multi tap Multi cap system, mini hand wash stations, Orissa MDM rules-2016, disbursement of food security allowance, rice fortification and impact study by All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Director (MDM) Vijaya Bhaskar Guralla lauded the initiatives of the state government in providing MDM to the students. Orissa is the only state in the country which gives money to students if the MDM is not provided, Bhaskar said. He said from next academic year utensils would be provided to children in the school with an objective to provide food to children with dignity.
The director requested the state government to raise the monthly honorarium of cook and helpers to `2,000 and `1,500 respectively. Guralla said West Bengal and Assam have created kitchen gardens in their schools and advised other states to develop kitchen gardens in their schools for better bonding with children and teachers. Delegates from 18 states attended the workshop. The Centre bears 60 per cent of the MDM cost while the state provides the rest.
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