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Mid-day Meal Scheme under scrutiny of RIA act

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Oct 23: In deference to the Right to Information Act, schools will now have to display information regarding the quantity, quality and utilisation of food served under the Mid-day Meal scheme.

They will also have to furnish the number of children given mid day meals, daily menu, and roster of community members involved in the programme.

This is one of the steps the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has asked states to take for monitoring the implementation of the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme and its impact.

State Governments have been advised to fix monthly targets for inspection of mid-day meals.

As per the directives, on an average, 25 per cent of primary schools should be visited every quarter and the rest of them should be visited at least once every year.

States have been further advised to evolve suitable formats for Questionnaire (Data capture form), to be filled by officials during field visits.

According to the HRD Ministry directive, the inspections should be simple and be able to capture all vital parameters required for the effective implementation of programmes at the field level.

As far as possible, field visits should be made unannounced. They should be used for critical observation and interviewing broad range of individuals involved in the programme.

Data capture forms should have provisions to obtain feedback from Head Master/cooks/organizers/children who take mid-day meals and their parents/children from disadvantaged sections/community leaders/ Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

Inspection reports are a very important part of monitoring documentation and they should be analysed in depth and linked with previous reports on the same centers.

Findings of the reports should be documented and reported in Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee meetings at all levels and suitable remedial/corrective measures should be initiated without any delay.

Social Science institutions currently undertaking monitoring of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan have also been entrusted the task of monitoring the MDM Scheme. The services of the same institutions could be utilised for undertaking evaluation of MDM Programme.

In addition to the above, States and UTs are required to develop a mechanism for public grievance redressal, which should be widely publicised and made easily accessible (like toll free call facility).

States have also been asked to develop a sound system of accounting procedure and reporting as well as a computer-based Management Information System (MIS) for MDMS, which is robust and reliable. The Department of School Education and Literacy is in the process of developing a Web enabled MIS that would ensure effective and de-centralised planning process based on relevant and useful data, smooth and timely flow of food grains and cooking assistance, prompt information about food grain/fund utilisation, better Inventory control, timely and automatic report generation, transparency&wider dissemination of information on implementation of MDMS.

It has been advised to evolve comprehensive and easy-to-follow formats to maintain a daily attendance register recording children availing the MDM, stock books for food grains&other cooking items, cash book for cooking cost. at school level and consolidate this information at the Block and District levels.

School authorities should identify and specify personnel to maintain the above documents with a view to ensuring responsibility and accountability.

They are to establish MIS cell with computers with Internet facility and position MIS co-coordinators/data entry operators to maintain accounts and generate reports at district level, co-ordinate with District NIC center for the purpose of building up of e-net work for effective monitoring of implementation of MDM Scheme.

States are also expected to conduct at least one evaluation study through an external agency utilising the funds released under Management, Monitoring&Evaluation (MME). For this, they are required to utilise the grants released under the Management, Monitoring&Evaluation component of MDM Scheme.

UNI

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