PM-Poshan Scheme

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    In News

    • A committee is set up to review the daily cooking cost of mid-day meals served under the PM-Poshan scheme.

    About

    • The committee will soon be notified by the Union Ministry of Education.
    • The cooking cost gets the largest allocation among the components of the mid-day meal programme. 
    • Department of School Education and Literacy will form a committee of experts to review the components of cooking cost, formula and methodology of its revision, actual consumption, coverage etc,

    Image Courtesy: Swachh India 

    Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme 

    • About:
      • The Midday meal scheme comes under the Ministry of Education.
      • It is a centrally sponsored scheme that was launched in 1995.
      • Provides cooked meals to every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrols and attends the school.
    • Aim: 
      • It is the world’s largest school meal programme aimed to attain the goal of universalization of primary education.
    • Objective:
      • Address hunger and malnutrition, 
      • increase enrolment and attendance in school, 
      • improve socialisation among castes, 
      • provide employment at the grassroots level especially to women.
    • First state:
      • Tamil Nadu is the first state to implement the midday meal scheme.

    Image Courtesy: Swachh India 

     

    • MDM rules 2015:
      • Midday Meal Rules 2015 are notified on 30th September 2015 under National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013.
      • Quality Check:
        • AGMARK quality items are procured, tasting of meals by two or three adult members of the school management committee.
      • School Management Committee: 
        • The School Management Committee (SMCs) play a vital role in the monitoring of MDMS. SMSc is mandated under the right to free and compulsory education act, 2009 or the Right to Education Act.
      • Food Security:
        • If the Mid-Day Meal is not provided in school on any school day due to non-availability of food grains or any other reason, the State Government shall pay food security allowance by 15th of the succeeding month.
    • Nutritional Standards:
      • Cooked meal having nutritional standards of 450 calories and 12 gm of protein for primary (I-V class) and 700 calories and 20 gm protein for upper primary (VI-VIII class)
    • Coverage:
      • All government and government-aided schools, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

    Current Cooking Cost of the MDM Scheme

    • Ingredients: Cooking cost includes the prices of ingredients such as pulses, salt, vegetables, condiments, and fuel needed to prepare cooked meals. 
    • Class bifurcation: Currently, the daily cooking cost per child in primary (classes 1-5) and upper primary (classes 6-8) is Rs 4.97 and Rs 7.45 respectively.
    • Role of Committee: The new set-up Committee will look into the actual consumption of pulses and vegetables apart from chalking out a new cooking cost, and revising the methodology. 

    Issues and Challenges with MDM Scheme

    • National family health survey findings: 
      • The National Family Health Survey 2015-16 reported 39 per cent of children to be chronically undernourished.
      • According to the National Family Health Survey-5, several states across the country have reversed course and recorded worsening levels of child malnutrition.
      • India is home to about 30% of the world’s stunted children and nearly 50% of severely wasted children under the age of five.
    • Caste Bias and Discrimination: 
      • Food is central to the caste system, so in many schools, children are made to sit separately according to their caste status.
    • Food quality: 
      • Quality of food is often debated where various media reports mention the health of children deteriorating with the food provided under the midday meals. There have been instances of plain chapatis being served with salt, mixing of water in milk, food poisoning etc.
    • Covid-19: 
      • Covid-19 has posed serious threats to children and their health and nutritional rights. The nationwide lockdown has disrupted access to essential services, including Mid-Day Meals.
    • Aadhaar Linking: 
      • The mid-day meal scheme has its own demerits of limiting the children’s access to the MDMS due to many not having Aadhar cards.

    How will it augment PM POSHAN?

    • PM POSHAN:
      • The revamped scheme has been launched for 5 years, from 2021-22 to 2025-26.
      • It has a budget of Rs 1,30,794.90 crore. 
    • The scheme is different from the mid-day meal scheme in the following ways:
      • Monitor nutritional levels: Apart from providing nutritional meals to schoolchildren, the revamped scheme will also focus on monitoring the nutritional levels of schoolchildren.
      • Major nutritional aspects covered: A nutritional expert will be appointed in each school to ensure that the BMI, weight levels and haemoglobin levels of the students are monitored.
      • Special provisions in special areas: In districts with a high prevalence of anaemia, special provisions for nutritional items would be made.
      • Nutrition gardens: The government is also considering developing nutrition gardens on school campuses with active participation by students.

     

    Image Courtesy: Swachh India 

    Conclusion

    • The PM Poshan scheme will provide supplementary nutrition in aspirational and tribal districts and districts with a high prevalence of anaemia.

    Source: IE