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Private schools to be included in Mid Day Meal scheme

Seeking higher Central assistance under Mid-day Meal scheme, the State Government on Monday proposed to extend the benefit of supplementary nutrition to privately-run schools like Saraswati Sishu Mandir and Vivekananda School and children from impoverished families studying Class IX and X in government schools.Inaugurating a two-day national workshop on Mid-day Meal (MDM) here, Minister of School and Mass Education Badri Narayan Patra stressed the need to enhance the unit cost of MDM honorarium of cook­-cum-helpers and MME (management, monitoring and evaluation).

Earlier, Patra said the cost of MDM was shared between the Centre and State on a 75:25 ratio. The Centre’s  share has been reduced to 60 per cent and State’s contribution has increased to 40 per cent. This has put an additional financial burden on the State Government.

At present, the cost of a meal given to schoolchildren is just `4.58 which is grossly inadequate in terms of nutritional quality. Making a strong plea for enhanced allocation from the Centre, Patra said the supplementary nutrition should be extended to poor children studying in Class IX and X in government schools and other deserving private schools.

Presently, children from Class I to VIII  of about 53,000 government-run schools are covered under MDM schemes. As many as 6346 schools in the State do not have MDM facilities, the Minister said.

Patra further informed that the State Government is planning to set up a food testing laboratory to examine the quality of food served to the students under MDM.

Lauding the reforms initiatives of the State Government, Director (MDM) in the Ministry of Human Resources Development Vijaya Bhaskar suggested the State to start kitchen gardens in school to provide green vegetables to students under the programme.Principal Secretary, School and Mass Education, PK Mohapatra highlighted the innovative steps taken by Odisha to strengthen MDM scheme. Delegates from 18 States participated in the workshop.

Source: The New Indian Express

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