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Posted at: Sep 13, 2018, 1:10 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2018, 1:10 AM (IST)

Won’t allow caste bias in schools: Govt

Mid-day meal scheme Warns officials of strict action if any incident comes to fore
Won’t allow caste bias in schools: Govt

Bhanu P Lohumi

Tribune News Service

Shimla, September 12

Taking serious note of reports of discrimination in the implementation of mid-day meal scheme on the basis of religion, caste, creed and gender in various schools, the state government has directed Deputy Directors, Education, and District Education Officers (DEOs) to ensure that nothing of the sort happens.

Director, Elementary Education, Rohit Jamwal said despite repeated reminders, discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed and gender while serving the meal to schoolchildren were being reported. Several complaints were received from various districts following which the Education Department had directed to serve the meal as per students’ roll numbers.

“The mid-day meal programme must be used for inculcating good habits, discipline and spirit of social equality among students and there should be no discrimination or segregation. The officials concerned must ensure that the children are seated as per their roll numbers during their meal time,” he stated in his letter to the Deputy Directors, Education, and District Education Officers, who have been asked to issue instructions to all schools under their jurisdiction. In case, any government official or an individual was found indulging in such an act, he would face stringent action, he warned.

All schools have been asked to publicise the toll-free number 1800-180-8007 so that anyone can register his complaint/suggestion related to the mid-day meal scheme.

As many as 2,97,337 students of 10,730 primary schools and 2,09,207 students of 4,769 upper primary schools are getting the benefit of this Centrally sponsored scheme. The cooking cost is Rs 4.13 per child at the primary stage and Rs 6.18 per child at the upper primary stage for 2018-19. It is shared by the Centre and the state in the 90:10 ratio.

Previous instances 

  • In Kullu, during a  live telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s programme in March this year, segregation of Dalit students had hit the headlines.
  • Cases of separate seating arrangement for higher and lower caste children while serving mid-day meal in schools were also reported from Seraj and Kautala in Mandi district. 
  • Following this, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur had asked school managments to make the seating arrangement according to roll numbers to end discrimination. 
  • The issue of caste-based discrimination in serving meals was also raised by leaders of Kohli and Ravidas communities during meetings of the Kohli Welfare and Ravidas Kalyan Board in 2016. 
  • Then also, former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had ordered that seating arrangement be made in order of roll numbers.
1800-180-8007  is the toll-free number for complaints

2,97,337 is the number of primary schoolkids availing benefit

4,769  is the number of upper primary schoolkids being served the meal

21,851 is the number of cooks-cum-helpers

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