No biscuits for mid-day meal: Govt

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New Delhi, Mar 17 (UNI) The government today said it had rejected a proposal to serve biscuits in place of cooked food for mid-day meal scheme as it was not in the ''nutritional interest'' of school children.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Human Resource Development M A A Fatmi said the government had received the proposal from biscuit manufacturers for serving 'biscuits in place of hot cooked mid-day meal.' Mr Fatmi said the government rejected the proposal as ''biscuits would not be in the nutritional interest of children.'' The minister also observed that the proposal would not fulfill the ''nutritional norms, dietary requirement and satiety of children''.

He said there were some complaints about the quality of food being served to the students in schools under the mid-day meal scheme.

On receipt of complaints, the state governments and Union Territory administrations were asked to conduct suitable inquiry and initiate corrective measures to a void recurrence of such incidents, he added.

Replying to another query, Mr Fatmi said of the total children enrolled in primary schools in 2006-07, 82.5 per cent were in government schools.

Various incentives, including cooked mid-day meal, are being provided to ensure universal enrolment of children in rural areas in the 6-14 age group.

The minister said 98 per cent of rural India has a primary school within one kilometer and the remaining rural habitations have alternative schooling arrangements, including the Education Guarantee Scheme (ECS).

Since the launch of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), all the out of school children in the 6-14 age group in the country (who numbered 320 lakh in 2001-002), have been brought in the ambit of elementary education, except 75.79 lakh children (as on March 31, 2007) who represent the difficult-to-reach category.

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