Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS)
According to the 11th Five Year Plan,
• MDMS was launched in 1995 to enhance enrolment, retention, and participation of children in primary schools, simultaneously improving their nutritional status.
• The number of children covered under the programme has risen from 3.34 crore in 3.22 lakh schools in 1995 to 12 crore in 9.5 lakh primary schools/ EGS centres in 2006–07.
• The MDMS was revised and universalized in September 2004 and central assistance was provided at the rate of Re. 1.00 per child per school day for converting food grains into hot cooked meals for children in classes I–V in government, local body, and government-aided schools,
• MDMS will cover about 18 crore children by 2008–09.
• The nutritional value of meals for upper primary children will be fixed at 700 calories derived from 150 gm of cereals and 20 gm of protein
• The maximum permissible transport subsidy was revised for Special Category States from Rs 50 to Rs 100 per quintal and for other States to Rs 75 per quintal.
• The scheme was further revised in June 2006 to enhance the minimum cooking cost to Rs 2.00 per child per school day to provide 450 calories and 12 grams of protein.
• It is reported that MDMS has benefited 8.1% of rural population and 3.2% of urban population.
• MDMS has catered to the nutritional needs of low-income groups in both rural and urban areas.
Rationale behind MDMS, http://pib.nic.in/archieve/flagship/bkg_mdm1.pdf
• Promoting school participation: Mid day meals have big effects on school participation, not just in terms of getting more children enrolled in the registers but also in terms of regular pupil attendance on a daily basis.
• Preventing classroom hunger: Many children reach school on an empty stomach. Even children who have a meal before they leave for school get hungry by the afternoon and are not able to concentrate - especially children from families who cannot give them a lunch box or are staying a long distance away from the school. Mid day meal can help to overcome this problem by preventing “classroom hunger”.
• Facilitating the healthy growth of children: Mid day meal can also act as a regular source of “supplementary nutrition” for children, and facilitate their healthy growth.
• Intrinsic educational value: A well-organised mid day meal can be used as an opportunity to impart various good habits to children (such as washing one’s hands before and after eating), and to educate them about the importance of clean water, good hygiene and other related matters.
• Fostering social equality: Mid day meal can help spread egalitarian values, as children from various social backgrounds learn to sit together and share a common meal. In particular, mid day meal can help to break the barriers of caste and class among school. Appointing cooks from Dalit communities is another way of teaching children to overcome caste prejudices.
• Enhancing gender equity: The gender gap in school participation tends to narrow, as the Mid Day Meal Scheme helps erode the barriers that prevent girls from going to school. Mid Day Meal Scheme also provide a useful source of employment for women, and helps liberate workingwomen from the burden of cooking at home during the day. In these and other ways, women and girl children have a special stake in Mid Day Meal Scheme.
• Psychological Benefits: Physiological deprivation leads to low self-esteem, consequent insecurity, anxiety and stress. The Mid Day Meal Scheme can help address this and facilitate cognitive, emotional and social development.
Evaluation studies conducted by Independent agencies,
Independent evaluation studies on the Mid-Day Meal have been conducted by different agencies in various parts of the country, which find inter alia enhancement in enrollment and attendance. The studies include:
(a) “Cooked Mid-Day meal programme in West Bengal - A study of Birbhum district”. Professor Amartya Sen’s Pratichi Research Team (2005). The study shows that Mid Day Meal has made positive intervention in universalisation of primary education by increasing enrollment and attendance. The increase has been more marked with respect to girls and children belonging to SC/ST categories. The study also points out that Mid Day Meal scheme has contributed to reduction in teacher absenteeism and a narrowing of social distances.
(b) “Situation Analysis of Mid- Day Meal Programme in Rajasthan”- University of Rajasthan and UNICEF (2005): states that the introduction of menu based mid day meal has positively impacted enrollment and attendance of children. It has contributed to social equity, as children sit together and share a common meal irrespective of caste and class. It has further contributed to gender equity in that it has provided employment to women.
(c) “Mid day Meal in Madhya Pradesh”- Samaj Pragati Sahyog, 2005: Undertook a survey in 70 most backward villages. The findings show that there was a 15% increase in enrollment, which was more marked in the case of SC and ST children (43%)
(d) “Mid Day Meals: A Comparison of the Financial and Institutional Organization of the Programme in Two States,” Farzana Afridi; April EPW (2005): The implementation of the programme is improving, but a lot more needs to be done. The new initiative of ‘Suruchi Bhojan’ is more attractive than the earlier ‘Daliya’ programme.
(e) “Mid-Day Meal Scheme in Delhi – A functioning programme” Anuradha De, Claire Noronha and Meera Samson ; CORD; (2005). Surveyed 12 MCD schools – school children in all schools were receiving food; impact of attendance more likely on girls, who often come to school without breakfast.
(f) “Report on Akshara Dasoha scheme of Karnataka", Dr. Rama Naik; University of Dharwad (2005). Has reported sharp rise in enrollment, particularly in rural areas. The programme has had an impact on teacher absenteeism: 64% schools stated that teacher absenteeism has been reduced.
(g) National Council of Educational Research & Training’s latest Report (2005) – Learning Achievement of Students at the End of Class-V has inferred that children covered under mid day meal have higher achievement level than those who were not covered under it.
(h) “Mid Day Meal Scheme in Karnataka – A study” by National Institute of Public Cooperation & Child Development, Annual Report 2005-06:- Mid Day Meal improved the school attendance in majority of the schools and reduced absenteeism. It has fostered a sense of sharing and fraternity and paved the way for social equity.
(i) “Mid Day Meal Scheme in Madhya Pradesh – A study - 2007” by National Institute of Public Cooperation & Child Development, Indore:- School enrollment indicated marked improvement in enrollment pattern of children in primary school. Mid Day Meal Scheme undoubtedly resulted in increased school attendance and facilitated in retention of children in school for a longer period. The Scheme has played a crucial role in reducing drop out, especially among girls. Parents viewed that the mid day meal had reduced the burden of providing one time meal to their children and considered it as a great support to their families. Teachers opined that mid day meal aided in active learning of children, which indirectly improved their academic performance. The Scheme has played a significant role in bringing social equity.
The Performance Audit Report on National Programme for Nutritional Support to Primary Education (Midday Meal Scheme), Report No. PA 13 of 2008,
• Even after more than a decade of running the programme, there is a lack of clarity regarding the objectives to be achieved by the scheme. There was a qualitative shift in the focus of the Scheme in September 2006 from education (with its emphasis on enrolment, learning levels and attendance) to nutrition and health.
• Ministry had not assessed the impact of the programme in terms of increase in enrolment, attendance and retention levels of children. The data collected from schools selected for audit did not disclose any definite pattern in enrolment, attendance and retention levels of children over the years.
• The Ministry has been unable to establish a system of reliable data capture and reporting by the states. Many states resorted to overreporting of the enrolment while projecting the requirement of funds. There was no system of cross checking the data of enrolment furnished by the state Governments.
• One of the objectives of the scheme was to positively impact the nutritional and health levels of primary school children; which was the main objective of the revised scheme in September 2006. The Ministry was yet to collect data on the nutritional status of children covered under the midday meal scheme. Nor were linkages with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the health checks prescribed under the scheme followed up by the Ministry. In most states the children were not administered micronutrient supplements and de-worming medicines.
• The audit of the implementation of the scheme countrywide displayed weak internal controls and monitoring. The provisions for programme evaluation and regular monitoring and inspections in the scheme design, were not effectively followed nor the results analysed for review of errors and introduction of changes on the basis of lessons learnt. The steering and monitoring committees set up by the Ministry to monitor the scheme at national and state level did not meet regularly. While at the national level, the committee met only twice since its inception in 2005 against the scheduled five meetings, the states fared even worse.
• In most of the schools sample checked in audit, regular inspections were not carried out to ensure the overall quality of midday meal served and nor were basic records such as issue and receipt of foodgrains, meal quality and evidence of community participation (through village education committees and parent teacher associations) maintained.
• Audit of the implementation of the scheme in the states disclosed leakages, deficient infrastructure, delayed release of funds and inflated transportation costs etc.
• The Ministry failed to put in place an effective system to ensure that teachers are not assigned the responsibilities that would interfere with teaching activities. Many instances of the teachers spending considerable teaching time in supervising the cooking and serving of meals were noticed, resulting in loss of teaching hours.