Published on March 16, 2014
Presentation on the Key Learnings Measuring Effectiveness of Mid Day Meal Scheme in Rajasthan, India CUTS Centre for Consumer Action, Research & Training (CUTS CART) in partnership with the World Bank March 13, 2007
Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) The National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education, commonly known as the Mid- Day Meal Scheme (MDMS): Launched in August 1995 Covers all students (class I to V) of schools run by Government, Government aided, urban and rural local bodies On the 28th of November 2001, India’s apex court, the Supreme Court, directed all State Governments to provide cooked mid day meals instead of raw food grains.
Implementation in Rajasthan Implementation since July 2002 Initially, students were distributed boiled wheat supplemented with groundnut and Jaggery (Gur) Since April 2005, cooked meals according to a menu: based on children’s preferences; local availability of raw materials; and decided by a district level committee.
Provision Under the scheme: Central Government provides 100 grams food grain (wheat or rice) per child per school day, free of charge To provide a minimum of 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein per child per school day, for a minimum of 200 days annually Rs.1.00 per student per day towards cooking conversion cost. The State Government also contributes Rs. 1.00 per student per day towards cooking conversion charges. Infrastructure for the MDMS is supposed to be developed by the State Government from funds available under other schemes
Accountability Line Panchayati Raj & Rural Development Department is the nodal dept. for the overall implementation at the state level Mid-day Meal Commissioner at state level supervises the implementation of the scheme At the district level, the Zilla Parishad implements the scheme through a MME (Management, Monitoring and Evaluation) Committee At the village level a committee is responsible for monitoring and supervising the implementation of the MDMS in various schools in the Gram Panchayat. School Management and Development Committee (SMDC) is responsible for overall management of school activities, including MDMS.
Pilot Study CUTS-CART undertook a pilot project to evaluate the implementation of the MDMS in 211 schools in Chittorgarh District of Rajasthan. The pilot was also expected to develop and test a methodology that could communicate consumer voice to service providers, towards better implementation of the MDMS in the State. CART also undertook PETS at different tiers viz state level, district level, block level and school level with regard to release of funds and food grains, and assessed the timeline of such releases and quality of food grains delivered.
Process: Methodology The pilot study broadly contained the following seven steps: Project scoping Finalising survey instruments Conducting the actual surveys Collecting secondary data on budget allocations utilizations and fund/grain flows Analyzing data Conducting stakeholders workshops, and Finalizing the report and disseminating results.
School Selection and Sampling 211 primary government/aided schools from 14 blocks were selected. A total of 2,110 students, 2,110 parents, 422 teachers and 211 cooks were interviewed. The schools were selected on the basis of parameters such as size, access by road, remoteness etc.
Survey Instruments A combination of two social accountability tools, PETS and the CRC were used in this study The PETS was used to gather information regarding budget allocations, budget transfers and expenditure CRC was used to generate citizen satisfaction scores (voice) on the management and delivery of
Results The surveys resulted in a massive amount of data, which yielded interesting insights and observations. The key observations have been broadly grouped into three categories as mentioned Below. MDMS Implementation Education Health & Hygiene
MDMS Implementation Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Delivery: More than 90% parents and students were satisfied with the MDMS. Untimely Receipt of Conversion Costs: Each school is required to send a monthly expenditure statement and vouchers to the Panchayat Samiti, which is supposed to reimburse the amount within 15 days The study revealed that : Only 21% of the schools received the funds every month, in time. The rest got funds in a time ranging from 2 to 6 months (12% got funds once in 6 months).
Quality & Quantity of Food Grains 97% of the teachers reported receiving acceptable to good quality of food grains. Only 23% of the schools were able to receive food grains after getting them weighed before delivery. The absence of a weighing mechanism in most schools makes it difficult to measure the quantity of food grains delivered, implying that the problem of underweight bags may be a serious problem.
Cooking and Storage Infrastructure Most schools lack adequate cooking and storage facilities. 95% of the schools do not have a kitchen shed while only 36% have a separate store room. Many teachers reported that they store the food stock in the class rooms, limiting the already limited class room space 62% of the cooks interviewed said that the MDM was cooked in the open, which is unhygienic. 83% of the cooks confirmed that they have sufficient utensils for MDM preparation.
Fuel Supply 76% of the cooks used firewood or kanda (dried cow dung) 14% used gas and 10% used kerosene for cooking meals. 8% of the cooks claimed that there were not provided fuel and made their own arrangements
Institutional Responsibilities The Gram Panchayats, through its committee/s are responsible for the implementation of the MDM. The survey revealed that 85% of GPs were not involved in the management of the MDM. The school SDMC was only in paper In fact the teachers emerged as the de-facto managers of the MDM.
Education Impact on teaching time The MDMS guidelines state that the teaching process should not be affected by the MDMS. Out of a total of 6 hours for which schools are open for, 30 minutes are allotted for a lunch break. This is highly insufficient for distributing the MDM to all students. ‘Preparing and distributing MDM to about 60-100 children is like managing a wedding lunch every day!’, said some teachers
Negative Impact on Education Teachers assist in the preparation and distribution of meals. The study reveals that 68% of the total teachers spend more than 1 hour, i.e. more than 17% of their allotted teaching time, in MDMS activities. Resulting on the overall teaching quality and the education
Quality of Education In order to judge the quality of education the students were asked to read simple sentences and write simple words and sentences. The observation was quantified and it gives a clear picture of the quality of education. 53% of the students were able to write and 48% able to read correctly, while 15% were not able to write and 18% not able to read at all.
Disseminating Results The results from the data analysis exercise, along with recommendations that emerged from the analysis were documented The draft was shared at the district level and state level and based on the feed back the report was finalized. The final document was presented to the Zilla Parishad, the State Government, Commissioner to the Supreme Court and other interested parties. The State Government is currently deliberating over the findings from the pilot and is considering scaling up the exercise to cover all districts in the State
Key findings Despite positive balances at ZP level, more than three-quarter of schools surveyed did not receive financial reimbursements relating to the conversion costs on time – delay was more than one month. There is no proper weight measurement system for food grains delivered at the school, which raises doubts about possibility of leakages.
Key findings….. Almost all the schools surveyed lack covered store and cooking space. The store problem is compounded when one considers the fact that more than two thirds of schools use firewood for cooking. Firewood not only pollutes the school environment with smoke, it also needs a larger store area, encroaching on the limited covered space available in the schools. Despite these huge shortcomings in the system the teachers are making all out efforts to make the MDMS available in time to the attendant children in most schools, as conveyed by almost all the children and parents.
Key findings….. This level of performance is achieved through a strict monitoring mechanism from the district level. The District collector is made responsible for proper implementation of the MDM and he/she and the senior officers conduct surprise checks in schools. If the performance of any teacher is found not satisfactory, there are severe punishments for the same. On the other hand it was found that teachers are spending close to 20% of their time or more on managing MDMS.
Critical Issues The accountability seems to be limited only to the end point management in the MDMS and this throws a few critical issues that need to be debated. Are the teacher’s right persons to be made accountable for MDM delivery at the end point? Is making them responsible for MDMS affecting the overall ‘schooling’? What should the teachers be accountable to? While the local governments (through their committees) are responsible for implementation of MDMS on paper, in reality they are absent. Is this a desirable situation? What kind of monitoring and accountability systems are need at the higher levels in order to reduce the delays and shortcomings in the distribution of ration and conversion costs?
Way forward….. There is a need to clearly define the roles of different actors and make them accountable for their role. There is a need to develop and put in place systems to track inputs (expenditure, food grains etc) and outcomes (quality of teaching, enrollment, retention etc). Provide basic infrastructure (kitchens, storerooms, sanitation facilities, water etc.)
Tools used and limitations This study started as a means to test CRC and PETS as tools of Social Accountability and established that these tools are useful in understanding a range of issues. Due to the design, time and financial limitation this study could not dwell on all the issues that emerged and there is a need to dwell deep into these issues to understand them.
Actions resulting from this exercise CART has been continuously advocating the findings at various fora. As a result of the advocacy there are some improvements undertaken by the Chtittorgarh Zilla Parishad. The critical action undertaken by them are given below. This is based on discussions the CART team had with the officers in-charge for the MDMS at district level and are not validated by any field surveys.
Actions……. After the survey, arrangements have been made to release sufficient amount for three months in advance towards the meal cooking purposes (from –3 months to + 3 months) For maintaining the quality of the meal, food grains are supplied to the respective schools after thorough checking, and in case of receiving any complaint, immediate action is been taken and suitable directions are issued. Efforts are being made to address the issue of covered store space for food grains and fuel wood. For this purpose, Zilla Parishad has been given adequate amount under the School Facility Grant (SFG).
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