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New Delhi: A dalit chief minister in Mayawati has not changed the deep-seated caste bias in schools of Uttar Pradesh. In 40% schools of Shahjehanpur, Badaun and Pilibhit districts, teachers do not taste the midday meal (MDM) food and students refuse to eat it since the cooks belong to lower caste.
The rot in MDM in these three districts is not confined to caste bias alone. It has also been found that in schools of urban areas of these three districts roti and green vegetables are never given, in 80% schools there is difference between the number of actual students present in the class and the number of students who are shown to be availing of MDM. Also, in most of the schools in urban areas there are no utensils.
In rural areas of these districts, MDM supplies of 95% of the schools are kept at the pradhan’s house from where they are brought to the school every day for cooking.
The report on three districts was prepared by Lucknow University’s department of education. It was discussed, along with another report on Maharajganj district, in the MDM’s Project Advisory Board meeting last month in the HRD ministry. The Centre has now asked the UP government to look into the matter and send a report by July 31.
The report said that in the three districts, upper primary schoolchildren take less midday meal than those in the primary sections because the “upper primary children belonging to general category are more aware of the caste system and do not like to take midday meal prepared by SC cooks’’.
The report said in 10% schools of rural areas of these districts, village pradhans do not give the required quantity of foodgrain for cooking midday meal. It also said that in 95% schools of these districts, children bring their own utensils.
Also, non-iodised salt is used in 5% of schools and 30% schools used wood for cooking midday meals. Another report—prepared by GB Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad, and Lucknow University—based on a survey of 110 schools of Maharajganj district said that MDM was not served in 50% of the sample schools.