Kerala’s Mid-Day Meals Are A Success. Except Teachers Are Funding Them.

Food distributed under the scheme is a big draw for children who come from impoverished families.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:: Kerala is one of the best performing states when it comes to the school mid-day meal scheme, but teachers say it is they who are footing the bill, not the government. The money the government allots, they say, is enough to buy just one egg a week – not the dal, vegetables and milk the children are also entitled to.

The schools just get Rs 5 for a student each day, and free rice. The money is just enough to buy one egg.  The twice-a-week milk alone costs Rs 12 for a single child.

Food distributed under the scheme is a big draw for children who come from impoverished families and the government hopes it will help stem the high rate of drop outs from schools.

At Thiruvananthapuram’s Fort UP school, each of the eight teachers, including the headmaster, pay between Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 to feed the 60 children who come from economically backward families.

“We share the cost. Each of us collects Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 and feed these children. The money the government gives is simply not enough,” said Jayashree AG, one of the teachers.

Last month, another school received Rs 1,685 from the government – the staff had to find the rest of the Rs 4,500 that was spent on food.

NDTV spoke to other schools, who on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they have either stopped providing milk or reduced its frequency. Some have even reduced the quantities of other food items due to paucity of funds.

“We must be absolved of these responsibilities,” said Shaji M Mathew, the President of Kerala Private Primary Headmasters’ Association. “As headmasters, we have to teach and look after a lot of things in the school. We should not be worried about how to generate money to feed the children under a government scheme.”

An external agency like Kudumbashree, he said, should be made responsible. “And till that time, we must at least be given the required funds to feed these children,” he added.

In a recent order, the state government increased the money granted for each child in schools that have more than 150 students. Now they will get Rs 8 instead of Rs 5.

“There is no end to money required, but I think with this much, schools should be able to manage. We are even encouraging some schools to cultivate their own vegetables,” MS Jaya, Director of Public Instruction, told NDTV.

But teachers say no matter how many children there are in a school, each child needs around Rs 15 a day for a hot, nutritious meal.

19 COMMENTS

  1. This is the irony in the most literate state of Kerala. One side is appreciating the good hearted teachers and the other side critizing that they are doing to save their jobs!

    Whatever it is even after 68 years of Independence we have school children go hungry in Urban Trivandrum not to talk of the plight of kids in rural India.

    Would like to have the details of a genuine NGO who supports such efforts to pitch in from side.

  2. This is true , i have first hand experience because my sister is a govt. teacher in a school in warangal dist. of telangana state and she says that the daal curry or any other curry they provide is just water and no good taste and they provide eggs just twice a week so the kids every day go to a small shop on cycle as it is too far to buy a packet of papad for rupee 1 or they call it as nalle to eat with the food they provide in the mid day meal programme.

    but the heart touching thing is that the boys share those papad of rupee 1 among themselves and i cant imagine what they can share in just a little pack.
    so my sister who is teacher there she gives money to the students to buy cookies and we from our family recently gave chicken and all the ingredients to the mid day meal cook to make chicken curry for those lovely but unfortunate indian kids.
    i live in dubai and yesterday itself i thought that if i get a job here i shall feed those kids often so please guys pray for my employment.

    i should not say but what to do its for the politicians out there who has crores of money in their bank accounts but no heart.
    i gave 500 rupees from my pocket money to my sis to give to those boys to buys those packs of papad everyday so that they can atleast have stomach full.
    by the way iam from warangal too and did my mba there.

  3. fort high is very old school right in the middle of Trivandrum city .My grandmother went to school there. The work done by teachers is commendable and done out of compassion and love .I myself have studies in Govt . school in Trivandrum city and this is what happens. Till this day I worship those teachers.

  4. This is absolutely correct. If sufficient number of children don’t turn up, teachers will lose their job that fetches them a fabulous salary which is much more than a better qualified and efficient teacher in a private school draws. These teachers in the government schools as well as in the government aided schools are given hefty sums as salary from the government coffers. What is a big deal if they spend a small portion of their salary for the hungry children? It is not charity; they just do it for the sake of their salary and survival, and not for love for the poor children.

  5. Friends, the reason behind this is to keep the a particular no. / ratio of children must be enrolled in a class to appoint a teacher in a govt. school. if the no. of children are less than the reqd, then the job of particular teacher in trouble. so for long time now all govt. teachers are poaching students for Govt schools from nearby backward colonies etc. this is the fact and more than a charity work saving their own job

  6. Would definitely admire what the teachers are doing .. at last children get free meal & education ….

    But there is a dark side of this, which many may not know. It is not the meals only but free transportation is also provided. But why all these?? Most this is happening in small govt. or aided schools in rural areas where the children count is less which may potentially end up in closure of the school or divisions in class. Now the teachers have to act by providing all these to attract more children in school to keep their job and income alive till their retirement and pension. I am not sure if the same is being done in bigger govt. schools in cities !!

    anyway.. by hook or crook.. children are getting what they deserve to..

  7. touched by the article. will you be able to share the account no, so that i can pitch in to the extend i can on a regular basis

  8. Kudos to teachers and civil society of Kerala, that’s the difference a educated and civilized society does… If goverment wont we as a community can and should do what is good…

    Would like to see such things replicated by communities across India..

  9. Considering that the government wastes hundreds of crores on the security of ministers, who face virtually no threat because they are generally despised, it is sad that a really excellent scheme like the mid day meal program is not getting sufficient funds. This should be a priority for any government as it directly impacts on the nutrition and education of the next generation, who are a potential gold mine for the country. Things have to change for the better.

  10. We need to appreciate the teachers and the organizations who support the scheme. I know the program to serve free food is running into great troubles in many states as the funds allocated to these schemes are very minimal compared to the reality. In most of the stats oppositions cry on the same, but when they come back to the ruling, they allocate the megre amount and the situation will be the same.

    One should appreciate the organizations like ISKON (atleast ISKON Bangalore which I have seen) which run the Akashaya Patra scheme and provide food to many govt schools around Bengaluru. I am sure that there are number of such organziations who cook a good food in clean environment and distributed to the govt shcools.

    Also I feel, govts has to take up the task of educating every one in govt schools by improving the schools and teaching methodologies.. RTE is not really helpful where govt is forcing some private schools to take the free or subsidized education for poor as POOR is not defined clearly as per govt terms. I can see some people who earn lakhs of rupees a month can get a BPL certificate from Local Govt authorities easily and mis utilize the RTE Quota..

  11. I salute the teachers and commend their efforts. The state of of MS Jaya, Director of Public Instruction is sheer nonsense.

  12. Dear Sneha,
    Please add more details about this school & teachers in case someone wants to make contribution for this cause.

  13. Forget govt schools.. the aided schools take minimum 20 lakhs black money for recruiting a high school teacher… no cheques.. no PAN card.. no aadhar… 20 lakhs hard cash. But the LEFT or RIGHT will not utter any word against them. because many teachers are politically active especially so that no one will question the “ransom” payment…. Talented people who don’t have money are left out for daily wage teaching jobs while below average people who has money will join any aided school by giving good money.. flexible working hours and harthals are bonuses…. and the cruel thing they does is that they take a break of 5+ years and goes abroad to make good money and then come back and join again as a retirement job..

    • What is the article and what r u commenting..
      Appreciate if something good comes out and be happy.. Corruption and bad people are everywhere, but that never undermines the things good people do. Learn to appreciate the positives of life and be happy. Thrives and corrupt may become rich but athey never will be happy nor will have the peace of mind.

  14. Ms. Koshy,
    Thanks for the article. Is there a phone number for the school if someone wanted to make small donations?

  15. Great article. Why government is not funding?
    I suggest to eliminate mid day meal by government and outsource to Akshaya pata. They do better job.

    But no body cares as everyone is busy with

    Parliament disruptions
    Cricket
    Kanaiah kumar
    Vijay mallya
    Beef

  16. Touched by the generosity and kindness of the staff. Do you have any details of a credible bank account from the school, so that I can also pitch in?

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