Students of pre-primary classes and primary schools sit in the open to have mid-day meals in the biting cold. They are made to sit on thin mats in verandahs to have lunch. The Education Department has been unable to provide adequate funds for the mid-day-meal scheme.
The situation is the same in most schools, including government primary schools at Sullar, Badungar, Model Town and Khera Jatta in Patiala. Students as young as four-year-old can be seen sitting in the open waiting for the meals. A teacher at the Model Town school said there were about 150 students in the school and they could not provide meals inside the classes.
A teacher of a primary school at Dhamo Majra village said the situation was the same in almost all government primary schools in villages. 'Since the beginning, the students sit on mats in the open to have the mid-day-meals. Some schools in the city serve the meals in separate rooms, but in villages, the students sit in the open on mats.'
The District Education Officer, Darshan Lal, said he was unaware of the situation. 'I will issue orders to ensure that the students are served the mid-day meals indoors.”'
The Central Government recently released Rs 40 crore for the mid-day-meal scheme. Prashant Kumar Goyal, Director General, School Education, said the department had released all pending amounts to the schools till November. 'Now, with this grant, we will release the amount to be utilised till the end of January. We are also expecting another instalment soon.'
The mid-day meal scheme was started in 2009 with an objective to provide nutritious meals to students till Class VIII in all government schools.