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Centre wants special focus on malnourished children in midday meal

The Centre wants states to carry out health check-ups for all students under the midday meal scheme to ensure that malnourished and underweight children are given a second helping of the meal. It is also considering a study to assess the impact of the scheme.

According to sources, the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry has asked states to pay special attention to malnourished children.

The ministry is also looking at extending the scheme to students of classes 10 and 11.

The decisions were taken at a meeting of the National Steering-Cum-Monitoring Committee for midday meal, first in June and then in November last year. It is also learnt that the ministry sent letters to states last year regarding these issues. Following this, the empowered committee held a meeting last year in which it was recommended that the scheme be extended to classes 10 and 11.

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“It was suggested in the meeting that identification of the thin children can be done with the data available at school level as the height and weight are already being measured, and special attention can be given to the identified malnourished child. In each school, a teacher can be dedicated to health check-ups,” said a source.

They also said the government wants states to use a height and weight tracker to identify such children and use it to assess the scheme’s effectiveness.

To assess the impact of midday meal, the ministry is also studying a proposal submitted by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration for an impact study.

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Of the total enrolment of 13.16 crore children, 10.03 crore children availed midday meal on an average basis in 11.50 lakh schools during 2015-16. Participation was more than 90% in Assam, West Bengal, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana and Karnataka. It was less than 65% in Delhi, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

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Centre wants special focus on malnourished children in midday meal