Department wakes up to safety measures after two accidents this month

After two midday meal mishaps that took place this month in Chikkodi taluk and Gouribidanur taluk, the Department of Primary and Secondary Education seems to have finally woken up to the negligent manner in which the midday meals are served.

In the wake of the death of seven-year-old Anusha, who died of severe burns on Wednesday after she fell into a hot sambar vessel while midday meals were being served on Tuesday, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has issued fresh guidelines for headmasters, teachers and cooks of government and government-aided schools while serving midday meals to the students.

A circular issued by the Commissioner of Public Instruction states that big vessels used for cooking the midday meals should not be brought outside the kitchen. The circular further states that the cooks and the teachers must ensure that the food is transferred from big vessels to small vessels while serving food to the children.

Observing that teachers are not monitoring and supervising the distribution of midday meals to students, it also states: “Headmasters and class teachers should ensure that the hot vessels of rice and sambar should be prepared and kept in the kitchen half an hour before the lunch hour.

During the lunch hour, students should be served lukewarm food in small vessels. At no point should the student come in contact with a hot vessel.

One of the other guidelines states that no child should be allowed to enter the kitchen and children should eat only in the classrooms or the school corridor.

“Class teachers, physical education teachers, headmasters and cooks should leave all the other work and supervise the students during the lunch break. On days when class teachers are absent, other teachers should be assigned the job,” the circular stated and added that similar procedures must be followed when students are given milk in the morning under the Ksheera Bhagya scheme.

Deputy directors of Public Instruction, block education officers, zilla panchayat and chief executive officers have been given the responsibility to monitor if there are lapses and take action against those responsible for violating them.

Compensation

Meanwhile, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar said that Rs. 50,000 compensation from Student Welfare Fund would be given to the family of Anusha. A. Ajit Prasad, DDPI of Chikkaballapur district, said that the cook’s job was terminated and the headmaster suspended after the accident.

“We have also decided to change the nine teachers of the Darinayakanayapalya Government primary school in Gouribidanur as there was no coordination among them, which resulted in the accident,” Mr. Prasad added.

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