Social audit report|Funds release delay impedes MDM scheme implementation

The delay in the release of funds under the Mid-Day Meals (MDM) scheme is one of the major bottlenecks of the entire programme, the social audit report released by the University of Kashmir (KU) states.

The social audit report was conducted by KU’s Department of Social Work with the support of School Education Department, J&K.

“It is highly recommended that the concerned authorities should release funds under the scheme on priority and all official stakeholders need to expedite transfer of these funds at their own level so that it reaches the concerned schools at the right time,” the report recommended for the proper implementation of the scheme.

The contents of the report have pinpointed that inadequate infrastructure has been a core matter of concern for the effective implementation of the scheme.

“Proper kitchen, store room and sheds must be constructed in every school,” the report reads. “Some interim arrangements must be put in place on priority as an immediate solution in certain cases where this has become a serious need.”

According to the report, special funds need to be provided for building washing and drinking water facilities in the school premises.

“It is necessary to engage cook-cum-helpers as per enrolment of students in schools,” the report reads. “To ensure proper watch and ward in schools, it is recommended to have peons and chowkidars under the scheme.”

The social audit report has been compiled on the basis of a survey done in Budgam and Ganderbal districts.

The social audit report has also recommended that special grant should be given to build and repair basic infrastructure required to implement MDM in a school which includes, utensils, pressure cookers, gas stoves, water supply, kitchen-sheds and stores.

“It is also important to enhance cooking cost per child as cost of pulses, cooking oil and cooking fuel has increased. The wages of cook-cum-helpers should also be enhanced,” the report states.

The team which has compiled the social audit report has also recommended that delivery of food grains to schools should be done on regular and timely basis.

“It is important to develop coordination and synergy between Food and Supplies department and Education department in ensuring regular and break-free supply of food items as mandated under the scheme,” the report reads.

It has also recommended that the School Education Department should specify the quality of cooking ingredients to bring uniformity and transparency in the entire programme.

“The meals should be made nutrient-dense and nutritionally balanced by using channa and rajmah more frequently and improving the consistency,” it reads.

The report has also stated that records should be maintained and all the documentation be properly done.

“Student committees must be formed and encouraged to provide feedback on food quality and taste. Inspection rosters should be prepared for every school to ensure that all primary and upper primary schools and EGS centers are inspected at least once every three months,” the report reads.