Will strengthened monitoring boost mid day meal scheme?

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 20 Juni 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The HRD ministry this week announced the setting up of a 'state-of-the-art' system to monitor the mid-day meal scheme on a real-time basis. It proposed that the new system -the Inter Voice Response System—would enable data from every school to be uploaded on a daily basis. This would include details such as the number of children receiving food in a particular school. It also promises that any stakeholder, including community leaders can file a complaint regarding the quality of food.

However, the devil lies in the details. Ministry officials say it will be the responsibility of the head of the school to upload the website. What is the reliability of a monitoring mechanism that puts the very official liable to be accountable in charge of the accountability process? It is worth questioning how such a system would safeguard against fudging of the number of beneficiaries or food schedules.

The mid day meal scheme is the government's flagship school nutrition programme which covers more than 10.5 crore school children in over 12 lakh schools. The scheme has undoubtedly contributed to increasing school participation and tackling malnutrition among schoolgoers but the monitoring mechanism needs to be made more transparent and participatory. Involving school management committees (which consist of elected local representatives, parents and guardians of students) as were mandated under the Right To Education Act, could be one way to do this.

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