Kerala govt backtracks on move to seek money from public for midday meals

Mid-day meal
Representational Image. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Government has withdrawn a controversial circular on collecting funds for the midday meals in schools. An order issued by the General Education Director has cancelled the circular issued on November 15 which had directed formation of ‘Midday meal protection committees’ in schools to collect interest-free loans from the public to meet the expenses for the food.

The circular wanted each school to set up such a committee with the ward member as patron and head teacher as president. The PTA president, a teachers’ representative, school management committee chairman, mother PTA president and representatives of the manager and former students were to be members of the committee.

According to the circular, the committee was to collect interest-free loans from parents, alumni and noted persons in the locality whenever there was a delay in allotment of funds by the government. The money was to be repaid to the public when government funds were received.

It also said that the CSR funds of private firms also could be utilized to meet the expenses of the midday meals. If possible, breakfast also could be served in schools with money from the people, the circular added.

The circular explained that these instructions were given because there was some hurdle in obtaining Central funds for the scheme since the previous financial year. However, the circular attracted widespread protests from teachers, who alleged that formation of such a committee was intended to pass on the liabilities of the midday meal scheme to teachers. ‘Malayala Manorama’ also published an editorial on Saturday criticising the government’s move.

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