Teachers caught on the wrong foot; schools do not have the space, and facilities to prepare the milk.

When two bags of milk powder, each weighing 25 kg, reached a government-aided School in Bajpe on Wednesday the teachers were surprised. “They wanted us to implement the scheme (of supplying milk to children) from Thursday. We were not ready for it,” a teacher said. They did not have the space, and facilities to prepare the milk.

On Thursday two teachers were deputed to prepare the milk. “I had to make two trips to a nearby shop to weigh 6 kg of milk powder needed for 300 children. Then another teacher and I prepared milk in a house nearby and served it. The whole routine took till 11 a.m. to finish. Two periods were lost in the process,” the teacher said and added that there was not much time given to prepare for the distribution of milk. They are yet to arrange for separate vessels and cooking gas to prepare milk. The school was now planning to build a room.

A visit by The Hindu to some of the schools outside Mangalore showed that there were schools that had not received milk powder till now. “Our children have brought their glasses today hoping to get milk. But we do not hear anything about it. We do not know whom to contact,” said Sister Jesinta, the Headmistress of Aided Pejawar Church Higher Primary School in Kalavaru where 200 students study.

A teacher in the Government Higher Primary School in Kenjar said they had received a bag of milk powder around noon. “We have somehow convinced our two cooks (who prepare mid-day meals) to come early and prepare milk from tomorrow.” Kamalakshi, a head cook, said remuneration of Rs. 100 per month was too less for the long hours they put in to prepare milk and meals.

The head cook was being paid Rs. 1,100, while assistant cook was being paid Rs. 1000 per month for midday meals.

Though the Government Higher Primary School in Badaga Yekkar received the milk powder on Thursday it did not provide milk on Friday. “We will start on Monday with Minister K. Abhayachandra participating in a function to launch it,” said Head Master D.V. Raghava.

Work in progress

Education Officer for Akshara Dasoha K.R. Manjula said alternative arrangements were being worked out to start the distribution of milk in 149 schools in the city. Akshaya Patra Foundation, which provides mid-day meals to these schools, has sought two months to provide milk to these schools. Milk powder has not been supplied to these schools.

Ms. Manjula told The Hindu that apart from 149 schools there were few other schools in the district where non-government organisations provided mid-day meals. “We are working out alternative means through which milk can be made available to these students, while waiting for the decision of the government,” she said.

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