GUWAHATI, May 2 – Scores of students studying in primary classes across the State now endure days of distress in government schools with funds meant for midday meals not reaching their schools in time. In many government schools, headmasters are spending money from their own pockets to finance the midday meals as funds are either late in coming or have not arrived for months.
Official sources told The Assam Tribune that in the majority of the schools, funds do not reach on time and procuring food and fuel has become a challenge. Head teachers in most of the schools have relied on loans to buy necessary items such as rice, lentils, salt and cooking oil.
In many schools, personnel entrusted to run the kitchen have not been paid for months, and some have been compelled to leave. With unattractive remuneration, cooks who can cater to needs of many children are hard to come by.
A teacher in a government school, who is well aware of the situation, expressing concern over the prevailing situation said that money from the DC’s office is released very late. “It has become a common practice that funds are not released on time, and the headmaster has to make several trips before the cheque is handed over.”
To buttress his claim, he pointed to some schools in Lakhimpur where funds meant for midday meals were not released for several months, creating difficulties for students as well as teachers. The situation is worse in more than 700 single-teacher schools in which teaching cannot take place when the teacher is busy seeking release of funds at the DC’s office.
A source in the Education Department agreed that all is not well with the midday meal scheme, and its implementation deserves more coordination. The schools in remote areas required better support as there were logistical issues such as rise in transportation costs, he added.