Thursday, January 23, 2014

Did govt ignore warning signals?

Did govt ignore warning signals?

Akshaya Mukul, TNN Jul 18, 2013, 05.14AM IST

NEW DELHI: Bihar's midday meal tragedy is a case of the state not heeding the advice of monitoring institutions that have been warning HRD ministry and the state that all's not well with the flagship programme.

Monitoring institution reports are discussed at programme approval meetings and referred to states. But there's no action. Monitoring bodies prepare a field report of 25% schools in a state each quarter. In Bihar, A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies (ASISS), Patna, and Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, in their last report of nine districts found serious problems. The HRD ministry sent the report to the state but, sources say, no reply has so far been received.
Bihar has 12 districts — Saran, Patna, Buxar, Gaya, Bhojpur, Nalanda, Rohtas, Siwan, Muzaffarpur, Kaimur, Buxar and Nawada — that are among the country's 106 poor performing districts.
ASISS studied Darbhanga, Saharsa, Sheohar and Sitamarhi. Apart from finding failings in following MDM norms, the key lacuna was lack of trained cook-cum-helpers — a crucial link in the MDM chain. They are paid a paltry Rs 1,000 per month. In Chhapra, the problem occurred while cooking. ASISS found cook-cum-helpers were hired in only 22.5% schools in Darbhanga, Saharsa (10%), Sheohar (27.5%) and Sitamarhi (45%).
A recent PAISA report that studied Nalanda and Purnea found 59% of cook-cum-helpers were paid once in six months. In 25% Darbhanga, Sheohar (20%), Sitamarhi (17.5%) and Saharsa (2.5%) schools there were no pucca kitchen and stores.
The ASISS report said in the districts it studied, there's little community mobilization. Parents weren't involved in monitoring of MDM. Jamia's report said the quality was poor in 50% schools and insufficient in 2.5% of Banka schools.

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