When I remember my school days, I see a blur picture. I was educated in a school which had only one room where there were students of five different classes were taught. Every corner of the room occupied by one of the classes. I never felt bad about it as the teacher in the class always kept us occupied with teaching different subjects and assignment. We use to have a break for playtime which we use to enjoy a lot.
When I go to my hometown and see the same school, I see a different picture. Now students carry plates along with books when they go for school. I see there are cooks available in the school who are busy in cooking the so called Mid Day Meal. And in some of the schools i saw, students have their lunch on the road outside the school.
Now, lets start with how all these started. Around 10 to 12 years back, our government wanted to increase the literacy rate. So how do we do it. In india there is no definition of what is literacy means and who will be called as educated. A person who can read and write also treated as educated despite he/she never passed a 5th standard exam. And why more kids are not enrolled in the school. And there was a silly idea that, as the indians are poor and hungry, if government can provide some eatables in the school, then those hungry kids will be attracted to it and parents wont mind sending those kids to school as they will get a chance to read in the school. With this what an idea sir ji.. the mid day meal program was started.
Now, India is country with many possibilities. Every decision has an effect and also a side effect. Sometime you see more side effects than the actual effect. The sole decision had a tremendous impact on many things. No doubt the enroll of students has gone up in last 10 years but the big question was, did it really fulfill the purpose of education ??
Many question which cropped in my mind after seeing all these developments which compelled me to write this blog. What does a school means? A normal definition would be, a school is a place where student go for education where teachers have a role of educating the students. Now let's see what is the impact of this Mid Day meal scheme in our schools. Most of the schools does not have enough teachers, infrastructure for teaching and other basic amenities like toilet etc. But despite that, those school must carry out cooking food in the campus to feed those students. And this has to be done with no extra support staff. The teachers are completely responsible for running this mid day meal business.
Assume a school with 100 students which has 3 to 4 teachers. If food is prepared for those 100 students, how large scale it would be! It is like running a hotel business inside the school. The fundamental issue with this scheme is, the government assumes that our school has enough number of teachers and infrastructure and teachers are capable of running this program. Should a teacher teach student or pay attention to run this virtual hotel in the school? Who should be blamed?
Apart from it, teachers have to divert their attention from their core duty of teaching to running hotels in the school which in turn impact a student career and indirectly to our future of the nation. Are we going to build our nation on the foundation of this Mid day meal scheme? Why the focus is not building quality infrastructure for school, hiring good teachers and building more school so that it can be accessible to all segment of students. Instead of fixing core issues which would encourage students for education, the mid day meal scheme has created more trouble and chaos.
This also indirectly propelled corruption in the supply chain system. As this mid day meal scheme involves number of institution to work in parallel e.g.: Supplying rice and other grocery. Our supply chain system is very poor, in transition of the food items, there is a lot of leakage. And the government is wasting lot of tax payer money by just running hotels in the school.
The recent incident in Bihar killing lot of innocent kids is an example of how the system works. Kids are fed with sub standard food. Teachers are forced to cook in the school. And after all this we expect to create a next gen youth with high education standard. If this is not stopped, Mid day meal will soon bring mid day horror ...