Nagaon, Oct. 22: The Nagaon administration has introduced a hi-tech system to streamline work under the centrally sponsored midday meal scheme in 4,171 schools in the district.
The new system includes monitoring of day-to-day work using a centrally installed server at the district headquarters, introduction of electronic transfer system for deposit of cash in school accounts for purchasing items for meals and maintaining the e-stock register to ensure availability of items in schools at all times.
The local administration recently arranged a two-day training programme for all the school heads in 11 different locations in the district to make them accustomed to the new concept.
According to the new system, at the end of each working day, the school heads must send an SMS from their cell phones to the central server stating the number of students present that day and whether the meal was provided or not. The SMS will have either “good” or “bad” written at the end of the message to ensure the food’s quality.
Messages sent by different schools will automatically be uploaded on the server and it will finally be recorded on the e-stock register.
Deputy commissioner P. Ashok Babu said all school heads have been instructed to send a one-line message at the end of each working day so that the system runs smoothly.
“We frequently receive mid-day meal related complaints from the public. When officials go to enquire into the non-availability of rice or cash, the absence of cooks is cited as the reason for the failure to provide meals to students. Paper work in issuing drafts for mid-day meals also delays the process. We will now make electronic transfers so that all schools receive money at the same time. As rice is available all the time, school authorities should not miss a date. We will consider the data in the message as facts and anybody found misleading the system would be punished,” Ashok Babu said.
According to him, money for sending the messages to the server will be deducted from the school’s annual maintenance fund.
Nagaon has 3,003 lower primary, 972 upper primary and 199 schools for child labourers under 11 elementary education blocks. According to records, 50,6784 children are enrolled in these schools.
Reluctance of a section of teachers to go for midday meal-related work, mismanagement and long official formalities in receiving money are some of the issues that stand in the way of smooth functioning of the programme.
“If rice and funds come simultaneously it might ease the entire process. Sending a message is a simple thing nowadays. Introduction of this new system makes all school authorities morally responsible to provide midday meals everyday,” said an administration source.
“Some teachers who are not accustomed to such a system will find it very difficult. We, however, feel this system is very good. This will reduce additional paper work related to midday meals,” said Janaki Hazarika, a Kothiatoli primary school teacher.