Karnataka likely to reintroduce mid-day meal scheme after Dussehra holidays

At present, students are provided dry ration instead of a cooked meal. The mid-day meal scheme had been suspended by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A week after Karnataka Education Minister B C Nagesh said that the government was looking into the feasibility of resuming the mid-day meal scheme for school students, officials have hinted that it would be reintroduced after Dussehra holidays.

At present, students are provided dry ration instead of a cooked meal. The mid-day meal scheme had been suspended by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The eleven-day Dussehra holidays begin from October 10 this year.

A senior official from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) told Indianexpress.com that suggestions have been sought from all Deputy Directors of Public Instruction (DDPIs) on measures to be taken to implement the scheme. “The DDPIs have been enquired on their preparedness to distribute mid-day meals at schools when they reopen after Dussehra holidays as well,” the official said.

Former Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar recently met Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and appealed to resume the scheme for the benefit of the children. “I have apprised the CM of the necessity of serving hot mid-day meals to students in our schools. Responding to my request, the CM said that an order to do so will be issued soon,” the BJP legislator from Rajajinagar Assembly constituency in Bengaluru said.

Earlier, the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) had highlighted that many parents had lost their jobs due to the pandemic leading to financial constraints at home. “They (parents) are struggling to provide food and other infrastructure for their children,” a letter addressed to the DPI Commissioner by KSCPCR Chairman Fr Anthony Sebastian read.

The KSCPCR has also urged the DPI commissioner to “ensure hot, cooked mid-day meals for students in schools by following the SoPs stipulated by the experts.”

In July, the state government had decided to provide the ‘cooking cost’ of mid-day meals to the students via Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). A circular issued by the DPI commissioner had asked concerned officials to inform all branches of nationalised banks and post offices to allow the opening of zero balance accounts for students of classes I to VIII to be linked to the scheme.

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