Classes on at DAV Middle School, Jharia, where the midday meal monitoring system has been introduced. (Gautam Dey)
An SMS a day is a fine way to to keep a tab on the midday meal scheme, the Dhanbad district administration will tell you.
The district education authorities have come up with a software-based high-tech system to monitor the midday meal programme and students’ attendance. Under the system, launched on a pilot basis in all 127 schools of Jharia by governor Syed Ahmed on June 19, teachers are required to message the attendance list of students in each class to cellphone number 9006565656 before noon every day.
A separate SMS indicating the number of students availing of midday meal on that particular day is also sent to the same number, which is connected to the district education department’s server.
The text messages are drafted in a special format for which training was imparted to the teachers. The data thus sent is fed to the server at the education department’s office and the record is saved for future use and monitoring.
“It’s a pilot project that was conceived by deputy commissioner Prashant Kumar. The system is now currently running in state-run primary and middle schools of Jharia block in Dhanbad. Soon, it will be extended to other blocks of the district as well,” said district education officer of Dhanbad Dharmadeo Rai.
Conceptualised by the district unit of National Informatics Centre (NIC), the software was designed by a Ranchi-based developer.
“It helps us not only know how many students are attending school, but also whether they are eating midday meal regularly or not. Any lapse will automatically come to the notice of the district headquarters and action can be taken promptly,” Rai added.
This is not all.
The schools also started sending details of cash and foodgrains available with them to the district authorities from this month.
“All 127 schools have already sent the information sought through SMSes by October 4-5. The details will help the education department provide funds or foodgrain reimbursement, if required, to the schools. Besides, we will be able to keep a tab on unutilised foodgrains and any negligence on the part of the school authorities,” Rai said.
DC Kumar said they would make the SMS register available to other blocks after successfully adding new features like details of foodgrain stocks. “We are preparing to roll out the system in Baliapur block of the district in the second phase,” said Kumar.
Regarding the advantages of the new system, he added: “The attendance report of students coming from schools after introduction of the new system is genuine and not fake as was the case earlier. We have been also able to check theft of foodgrains to a considerable extent. Stock records are monitored regularly.”