Undeterred by fund crunch, teachers in government and aided schools in Kerala are spending from their own pockets to feed children under the much touted mid day meal scheme. Though government had increased the allocation under the scheme from Rs 5 to Rs 8 per child early this week, it is still "too low" and to feed the children nutritious meals every day and has been introduced only to schools with more than 150 students.
Besides, they also have to arrange funds for cooking items and LPG or firewood, they said. The protein-rich meals, weekly milk and egg are a major attraction to draw kids from impoverished families to schools.
In many schools, principals have to pay from their own pockets or depend on the contributions of alumni. While big schools manage to take forward the scheme with support of Parents and Teachers Association funds, smaller ones run from pillar to post to make both ends meet, as teachers are shelling out 500 to 1000 every month for the extra cost.
Teachers say it is very difficult to continue the scheme successfully if fund allocation is not raised at least up to Rs 10 per child. They also asked how they would be able to manage with such meagre amounts when a single egg costs Rs 4-5 in the local market.
The Principal of a upper primary school here said she spends about 3,500 from her pocket every month to provide meals to the children. "Principals of small schools have to spend a lot of money from their own pocket to feed the children. I spend Rs 3,000 to 3,500 in many months. But I have no regrets as it is to for the children," she told PTI on condition of anonymity.
The Principal said she could make no compromise in the case of meals as most students of the century-old school, established during the regime of Travancore royals, belong to poor families or destitute homes.
A report by NDTV said that while almost Rs 4500 were spent for meals for the children, a school has only received a sanction of Rs 1685 from the government. It also said that some schools have stopped providing milk or reduced the frequency of milk being provided.
"Things will become worse during months when prices of essential commodities soar. We depend on humble contributions by alumni who visit the school on many occasions," she said. She even said when a holiday falls on Thursdays, she and her fellow teachers heave a sigh of relief as they do not need to arrange money for that day's milk.
Feature image source: Reuters