The State government's decision to continue midday meal for schoolchildren in drought-hit taluks during summer vacation has been met with poor response in Hassan district.

Many schools remain closed in the afternoon. While officials said that children do not turn up to at schools, parents said they were not aware of the continuation of the scheme during summer vacation.

When this correspondent visited two schools in Hassan city on Monday, there were no children to be seen. The situation is similar in schools in some of the nearby villages.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Hassan Zilla Panchayat issued a circular recently instructing schools (both government and aided) to continue the midday meal scheme for children studying in classes 1 to 8 in six drought hit taluks of the district.

G. Kumar Naik, Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education, and Secretary in-charge of Hassan district, at a review meeting last week instructed Education Department officials to conduct cultural activities for children so as to bring them to schools.

However, no such activity has been conducted in the district so far.

A.T. Chamaraj, Deputy Director of Public Instruction, said the scheme was continuing in 2,100 schools of the 2,600 schools in the district

“There is sufficient stock of foodgrains in schools. I have instructed block education officers to work out programmes to attract children to schools,” he said.

When asked about children's response, Mr. Chamaraj said the need for continuing the scheme in summer had been minimised as several parts of the district received rain last week.

“Many children are visiting relatives in other places. It is impossible to bring them back to schools only for midday meals,” he said.

He said he would get details of the children coming to school to have midday meals during vacation in a few days.

The department has entrusted school headmasters with the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the scheme.

Midday meal scheme workers, who were relieved from duty in March-end, have been told to come back to work.

Dharmesh, district secretary of the Communist Party of India, said that continuing the scheme during summer vacation in drought-hit areas was a welcome step. “But many parents are not aware of this. Parents, especially those in rural areas, should be informed about food being served to children in schools,” he said.

Keywords: midday meal

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