New midday meal norms ‘inhuman’

Teachers, Anganwadi workers speak out against Centre’s decision

March 10, 2017 03:30 am | Updated 03:30 am IST - JAIPUR

Meal time:  Children eating midday meal at the Government Primary School in Chetna Basti, Jaipur, on Thursday.

Meal time: Children eating midday meal at the Government Primary School in Chetna Basti, Jaipur, on Thursday.

Teachers and Anganwadi workers in Rajasthan have spoken out against the Centre's recent decision to link the midday meal scheme to Aadhaar, saying it would completely disrupt the process of food distribution and teaching and learning.

They said it would create an “inhuman culture” where children would be denied food due to exclusion through biometrics.

While responding to queries of the Right to Food Campaign and People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) activists, teachers called upon the administration to focus on more nutritious food for the children along with a strong school health programme. They expressed surprise at the very idea of a daily, weekly or monthly authentication process.

Classroom hunger

PUCL-Rajasthan president Kavita Srivastava said here on Thursday that the activists, during their conversations with the government school teachers and principals, found them aghast at the concept of making Aadhaar mandatory for children.

Some teachers gave instances of classroom hunger and stunted children coming to their schools.

As the children coming to the government schools are from economically weaker sections, mostly Dalits and minorities, schools generally ensure that the little siblings who come with the older children are also fed.

“If the machine does not match biometrics of a child, will he remain without food and sit in a corner watching others having their meals? Won't it be inhuman?” asked a teacher on the condition of anonymity.

Learning process

The teaching-learning process will also be disrupted, as the day would be over in the exercise to authenticate an average of 200 children in each school.

While one-time production of identity on enrolment was found justified, Ms. Srivastava said the teachers were mostly arguing for a more nutritious meal.

“If milk, paneer and eggs are supplied, children will be ensured of quick and direct proteins and other micro-nutrients,” said Ms. Srivastava.

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