Aizawl, Jul 26 : Jittery over the Chhapra school mid-day meal (MDM) horror, the Mizoram MDM Cell under the State Education department has ordered teachers to eat the MDM meal before serving it to their young wards.
The department has issued a circular asking the teachers to eat the MDM fare before serving the children every day. “Not that we expect the Chhapra tragedy to repeat at anytime, but accidents can always happen and this is one way we feel can protect the children who are under our care. Chhapra was a case of poisoning, ” B Lalchhuanliana, officer-in-charge of the State MDM Cell here said.
The DC Serchhip district has issued his own notice to implement this. Teachers have been assigned for the ‘job’ in rotation. Lalchhuanliana said that the MDM scheme started in Mizoram in 1995 with raw rice distributed to the students in Primary and Middle School level. Since 2004, a Supreme Court ruling directed school children be given cooked meals.
While quality wise, the MDM meal served here looked average, the continuing financial crunch in the State is affecting the scheme. It is learnt that while the Centre sanctioned Rs 521.79 lakh last April for the year 2013-14, the State is fumbling to put up its own share.
Kitchens have been set up with most schools being given Rs 2.50 lakh each, but kids are yet to be provided proper dining space, which Lalchhuanliana said is what is actually needed. “At the moment they are eating in the classroom or corridors,” he said.
A visit to one of the schools, Government Boys Primary and Middle School in Tuikhuahtlang, showed that the meals were fresh, hygienic and healthy. In the Middle section of the school, two cooks, Thiangi and Tluangi were busy cooking rice, dal and a vegetable dish of fresh pumkin leaves, a fare which is normal in most families in the State.
The headmistress, K Sanghnuni of the Lower primary school said that the school used proper cooking oil for the children’s food and it was cholesterol-free. K Lalbiakenga, from the Middle section of the school said that the government has not released money for the last four months. The cooks are yet to be paid the meager honorarium of Rs 1,500. “But this scheme is very important for our students. The health of the children has improved,” he said.
Under the scheme, Rs 4.60 is sanctioned per child in the Middle section while the primary section is given Rs 3.30 per meal. The rate has been revised from July 1, 2013 for primary to Rs 3.34 and to Rs 5 for upper primary. The total number of primary schools approved under the scheme is 1,484 with 1,23,981 enrolled students. The approved number of upper primary schools are 1,022 with 49,806 kids.