December 27th, 2016
Lizard In Midday Meal
Mid-day-meal, a central government sponsored scheme, launched in every government school across the country is once again in the news after students in a school in Tamil Nadu were rushed to the hospital for abdominal pain.
Almost 60 students of a government school in Athiyur, Sathyamangalam Taluk, Erode, Tamil Nadu, were admitted to hospital when they fell ill after eating rice and sambhar for lunch.
After finishing their lunch in school, students started to complain of abdominal pain, vomiting and dizziness. Observing the state of students, the teacher rushed them to Sathyamangalam taluk government hospital.
The students were aged between 11 and 14 years and their health condition stabilised after treatment. They said they found a dead lizard in the sambhar and flies in the rice.
The parents were outraged by the negligence and protested outside the school. They alleged that the school did not provide hygienic food to children.
The Sathyamangalam police official and the district education department officials rushed to the hospital to probe the matter.
The mid-day meal program was launched in August 1995 to increase enrolment, retention and attendance which gave a boost to education but the number of complaints about the quality of food being served under MDMS ( Midday Meal Scheme) have risen across the country. It seems hygiene is not a priority for preparing meals for the children.
The situation is worse in preparation and storage stage. There are no proper kitchens, and many schools are just one room structures, often the meals are cooked in temporary sheds which are very unhygienic. Rats, dead lizards, iron chips, insects have been found in the meals. The school authorities are also expected to taste meals before distributing to children, but this rule is not followed. Some of the states have started allocating special budgets to build temporary sheds and kitchens, but that also requires constant inspections from the health department.
Another upsetting incident was reported on 16 July 2013 when at least 23 students died, and many fell ill at a primary school in Dharmasati Gandaman, Saran District, Bihar after consuming Midday meal contaminated with pesticide. In the backdrop of this incident, Bihar government launched a toll-free number for complaints related to Mid-day meal and also directed for the raw grain samples to be kept for three months at Godowns from where it will be supplied to school.
Not only are the students in these schools working with bad infrastructure, they are also facing health problems due to the food. In such circumstances, how can we expect the children to be motivated to stay in school? And how can we expect that the parents will feel at ease knowing that their child’s health is taken for granted?
Over the years, many changes have been brought to the program to keep improving.