Jan-11.pdf
Vanmathy Anbarasan and Abha Ahuja
Perceptions About Mid-Day Meal Scheme
THE
INDIAN JOURNAL
OF
SOCIAL WORK
Tata Institute
of
Volume 72, Issue 1
Social Sciences
January 2011
Perceptions About Mid-Day Meal Scheme
A Comparative Study Between Uttarakhand and
Tamil Nadu
VANMATHY ANBARASAN AND ABHA AHUJA
Food Assisted Education (FAE) in India has revolutionised the primary education
scenario. In-school feeding supports enrollment and attendance rate, lowers dropout
rate,
improves
nutritional
status
and
student’s
performance.
However,
the
implementation of the Mid-Day Meals scheme (MDM) is not uniform across India. To
bridge this gap, a research was undertaken to study the perceptions about the MDM
scheme among its beneficiaries and functionaries in the states of Uttarakhand (where
the scheme was recently implemented) and Tamil Nadu (which is the forerunner of
the scheme). From the success lessons learnt from Tamil Nadu the experiential
sharing from the two states is suggestive of certain measures for modifying the current
policies and practices for the betterment of the MDM scheme in Uttarakhand, The
implication of the study highlights that apart from the funds and guidelines provided for
the scheme, it is equally important to focus on the attitude and involvement of the
beneficiaries and functionaries for the success of the MDM scheme across the
country.
Vanmathy Anbarasan is Assistant Professor, School of Rural Development, Tata
Institute of Social Sciences, Tuljapur, Maharashtra. Abha Ahuja is Professor and
Head of Department of Human Development and Family Studies, G.B. Pant University
and Agriculture, Pantnagar, Uttar Pradesh.
INTRODUCTION
School education is the process of bringing out the potential of an individ-
ual and is indispensable for understanding social problems and change
(Aruna, 1994). In India, elementary education is viewed as the basic right
of every human being and is included in the Directive Principles of State
Policy (Pandey, 1997), with free and compulsory education up to the age
of fourteen years. The District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) was
launched in 1994 with the aim to universalise primary education in India
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118
Vanmathy Anbarasan and Abha Ahuja
through the “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan”,one of the largest education initia-
tives in the world.
The number of Primary Schools in India is 0.664 million and the contin-
uous efforts made by the Governmentof India, has increased the net pri-
mary enrolment ratio to 83.7 percent (Government of India, 2005). Though
the enrollment of students in primary schools has been enhanced, the qual-
ity of education remains low. As per Government statistics (September
2004), of the 193 million children in the age group 6–14 years, 35 million
children do not attend school. The dropout rates have increased alarm-
ingly; it is 50% for boys and 58% for girls. The PROBE Team (1999) sur-
vey in northern India found that the responsibility of household chores and
caring for siblings was the most important reason for not sending girls to
school. The direct educational costs are higher for girls than for boys (Herz
and Sperling, 2004). Food for Education (FFE) programmes have proven
to be an effective means of addressing these obstacles, enrolling more girls
in school, keeping them enrolled and enhancing their adulthood wellbeing
(World Food Programme [WFP], 2000). Evaluations of FFE programmes
have shown that it has increased enrollment and attendance of girls in par-
ticular, reduced dropouts in the lower primary schools and improved stu-
dents’ learning capacity (Adelman, Gilligan and Lehrer, 2006).
A cross sectional study of different regions of India, found that child la-
bour, hunger and malnutrition are the major hindrances for childhood edu-
cation (NationalInstitue of Nutrition [NIN], 2006). Hungry children are
less likely to go to school and less able to learn even if they attend. Poverty
is directly correlated with educational performance. For poor households,
basic survival and sustenance take precedence over education. Poverty and
hunger are the prime factors responsible for the cultural practices that im-
pede education (Levine, Birdsall, Ibrahim and Dayal, 2003). Therefore
synergy among health, nutrition and education is significant for school
participation (Rosso and Marek, 1996). International research, including
researches in India, are increasingly bringing out the evidence of the inter-
dependent and complementary nature of health, nutrition and education
factors in the context of overall development of the children. Observational
studies done by Levinger (1996) have shown that a history of feeling hun-
gry during school hours is associated with poor school achievement. A
study done in Sweden reported that children who received adequate food at
school performed better in tests of addition and creativity and were physi-
cally active than their counterparts (Scrimshaw and Schurch, 1999). So
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Perceptions About Mid-Day Meal Scheme
119
“In-school Feeding” has been strongly recommended by international de-
velopment agencies like UNICEF, CARE, WHO and FAO, in developed
and developing nations. Food Assisted Education (FAE) not only increases
children’s school participation and academic achievement but also sup-
ports their psycho-social development (McGovern, 2002).
MID DAY MEALS SCHEME (MDM)
Tamil Nadu has a long history of direct nutrition investments and is the
only state in India that has officially started with the aim of creating a “mal-
nutrition free state”. The nutrition programme of Tamil Nadu has a strong
political commitment and is listed as one of the items of public expenditure
(Government of Tamil Nadu, 1993). First of its kind in India, food assisted
education called as Mid-Day Meals (MDM) programme was initiated in
1925, and administered to the poorest sections of the society in areas ad-
ministrated by the Madras Corporation. Rajan and Jayakumar (1992) ana-
lysed the school lunch programme in Tamil Nadu during the early 1980s.
The results showed improvement in enrollment and the rate of attendance
of children from the lower socioeconomic groups, including Muslim and
other backward classes. Later, similar programmes were introduced by nu-
merous other states. The long standing success of school meal schemes in
states like Tamil Nadu and Kerela led to the formal launching of the
mid-day meals in August 1995, as Nutritional Programme for Nutritional
Support to Primary Education (NPNSPE) by the Government of India, as
a centrally sponsored scheme. This programme was initiated with the
twin objectives of enhancing the nutritional status and promoting pri-
mary education by influencing the decision of economically disadvan-
taged people to admit children in schools and retain them till they
complete the primary school education cycle (Government of India,
2005). The Supreme Court issued legal entitlement in November 2001, to
provide cooked mid-day meals in all the government and government
aided primary schools in all states. In spite of the Supreme Court’s order,
the mid-day meals scheme implementation across India was found to be
only partially implemented in many states like Jammu and Kashmir,
Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Orissa, Assam, Arunachal
Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.
The MDM scheme should be considered as an integral part of the school
system, otherwise it will be meaningless. An active meal programme
should trigger all-round development of different essential components of
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Vanmathy Anbarasan and Abha Ahuja
a good school system (Advancing Basic Education and Literacy, 1992). To
facilitate further understanding on MDM scheme as an effective tool for
promoting primary education in India and to universalise education as a
part of Millennium Development Goals (MDG), a SWOT analysis on
mid-day meals (Figure 1) was done by the researchers based on the infor-
mation available from published reports and records.
FIGURE 1: SWOT Analysis of Mid-Day Meals
STRENGTHS
WEAKNESSES
Puts an end to class room hunger
Poor knowledge on sanitary
Compensation for child labour
practices
Promotes school participation
Lack of funds and school
Prevents gender and caste
infrastructure
discrimination
Mishandling of the resources
Low quality grains and pulses
OPPORTUNITIES
THREATS
Increase in children’s academic
Loss of teaching hours
achievements
Political influence
Psychosocial development of
Complaints about students illness
children
Operational cost involved
Community awareness and
Timely delivery of
participation
commodities
The analyses reveals that despite the strong strengths and opportunities
of MDMs, some of the factors like loss of teaching hours, lack of funds,
mishandling of resources, huge operational costs involved and difficulty in
the timely delivery of the commodities are detrimental to the programme.
Banerjee (2000) has also reported that despite the successes attributed by
the FAE programmes in India, the net impact of the MDM scheme on the
educational and nutritional status of primary school children is still under
debate. Since the introduction of the programme, local news papers have
published reports of children and teachers spending class hours fetching
firewood and stirring pots of ghoogri instead of teaching and learning.
Therefore, the success of the FAE programmes depends a great deal on ef-
ficient management. Incompetent management of MDM schemes can do
more harm than good.
It is, hence, important to analyse the implementation and management
of the MDM scheme across the Indian states. With this background in mind
a preliminary study has been undertaken to draw the perceptions about the
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Perceptions About Mid-Day Meal Scheme
121
MDM scheme in the states of Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu with the objec-
tives of
studying the profile and perception about the MDM scheme from the
beneficiaries and functionaries of the scheme in the states of
Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu;
assessing the implementation of the MDM scheme at the school level
in both the states; and
examining the effect of the MDM scheme on the enrollment,
retention and the rate of attendance in the selected primary schools of
Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu.
METHODOLOGY
According to Babbie (1989), the survey method is an excellent vehicle for
measuring the attitudes and orientations in a large population. The present
study is explorative in nature, so survey research using a self-designed
questionnaire cum interview schedule was administered for collecting the
perceptions about MDM scheme from the beneficiaries and functionaries.
Sampling
Purposive sampling was done to select two states — Tamil Nadu and
Uttarakhand. These two states were chosen because Tamil Nadu is the fore
runner of the MDM scheme and is the country’s largest in terms of the
number of beneficiaries covered (Swaminathan, Jeyaranjan, Sreenivasan
and Jayashree, 2004) and Uttarakhand is a recently formed state, which is
in a rapid developmental stage. Hence, a comparison between these two
states will benefit other states to learn how to successfully implement the
scheme. Convenience sampling was done to select Rurdapur block among
the 7 blocks in Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand and similarly,
Allanganalur block was selected from the 13 blocks of Madurai district in
Tamil Nadu, as it was easily accessible for the researcher. A total of 10 pri-
mary schools from both the blocks (5 from each block) were indentified for
the study (shown in Table 1).
Perceptions about the MDM scheme was collected from beneficiaries like
children and parents and from functionaries like teachers, cooks and govern-
ment employees working in the administrative offices like Block Research
Centre (BRC), Crystal Research Centre (CRC), District Educational Training
Centre (DIET) and Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) office. Therefore, the total
sample covers 430 respondents, with 370 beneficiaries and 60 functionaries.
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Vanmathy Anbarasan and Abha Ahuja
TABLE1: Schools Selected for the Study
S.No
Schools in Uttarakhand
S.No
Schools in Tamil Nadu
1.
Rudrapur
6.
Allanganallur
2.
Nagla
7.
Achampatti
3.
Haldi
8.
Matupatty
4.
Matkotta
9.
Meenachipuram
5.
Patharchatta
10.
Aiyur
Field research consisted of unannounced visits to the schools to ob-
serve meal preparation and distribution. Semi-structured interviews
with the government school teachers, cooks, primary school children
and their parents were also conducted. Care was taken to ask questions
in a non-suggestive manner. A separate check list was also used by the
researcher, to assess the infrastructural facility and management of the
school for evaluating the implementation of the MDM scheme at the
school level. Apart from field notes, photographs were taken and video
recording was done to document the responses given by the beneficia-
ries and functionaries during the interactive sessions. Data regarding
the enrollment, retention and attendance were collected from the school
records maintained by the management. Enrollment, attendance and re-
tention rates were calculated for 5 years (2002-2007) using the standard
formulas.
The Enrollment rate was calculated by assessing the total number of
students admitted in the school each year.
Total attendance in an academic session
______________________________________
Attendance rate was calculated by
X 100
Number of days school opened
in an academic session
The Retention rate was calculated by taking the enrollment in each
class (from class II to V) as a percentage of enrollment in class I, without
considering the new admissions and repeaters. It was derived from the stu-
dent’s flow diagram using Cohort Analysis.
Descriptive statistics using frequency and percentage analysis was done
to tabulate the results obtained.
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Perceptions About Mid-Day Meal Scheme
123
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
In any field survey a clear understanding of the socioeconomic characteris-
tics of the respondents will enable better interpretion of data. Table 2
shows the socioeconomic profile of the beneficiaries. In the present study,
majority of the primary school children surveyed, fall under the age group
of 10–14 years (39.6%). It was observed that 33.6% of the fathers and
54.8% of the mothers were uneducated and 40.4% of the children had a
birth order of three. Most of the parents (58%) were occupied as assis-
tants/clerks or labourers or farmers, and their family income was between
Rupees 2000–5000 per month.
Perception of Beneficiaries
In Uttarakhand, only 21.6% of children were regular in attending school on
all the working days, whereas in Tamil Nadu a large number of children
(62%) were regular in attending all the working days in a week. Besides,
expressing interest in school activities and fondness for a particular
teacher, 21.6% of the children in Uttarakhand and 25.6% of the children in
Tamil Nadu attributed the provision of free noon meals as a reason for at-
tending school.
It is clear, that, a certain percentage of children in both the states come to
school solely for mid-day meals. Most of the children in Uttarakhand
(66.4%) and Tamil Nadu (87.2%) revealed their liking for the mid-day
meals served. It is important to note that interest in classroom activities for
Uttarakhand (63.2%) and Tamil Nadu (88.8%) children has increased due
to the MDM scheme.
The reasons for children liking the mid-day meals is shown in Figure
2. Majority of the children in Uttarakhand prefer mid-day meals be-
cause they feel hungry (56.6%) and is served hot (27.7%), whereas in
Tamil Nadu, majority of the children preferred mid-day meals because
of the variety provided (29.3%) and tasty food (28.4%). The major rea-
sons for dissatisfaction with mid-day meals among children in
Uttarakhand was tasteless food (39.3%) and food not cooked well
(33.3%). In Tamil Nadu, the percentage of children who were dissatis-
fied with the mid-day meals was comparatively low. Totally, 53.6% of
Uttarakhand children and 81.6 % of Tamil Nadu children were satisfied
with the mid-day meals.
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Vanmathy Anbarasan and Abha Ahuja
TABLE 2: Socioeconomic Profile of the Beneficiaries
Variables
Category
N=250
%
Age
>6 yrs
60
24.0
6-10 yrs
91
36.4
10-14yrs
99
39.6
Gender
Male
138
55.2
Female
112
44.8
Ordinal position
1
27
10.8
2
63
25.2
3
87
34.8
>3
73
29.2
Father’s education
Uneducated
84
33.6
Primary
99
39.6
High school
47
18.8
Intermediate
20
8
Graduation

0
Mother’s education
Uneducated
137
54.8
Primary
82
32.8
High school
18
7.2
Intermediate
13
5.2
Graduation

0
Family income
<2000
73
29.2
(per month)
2000-5000
146
58.4
5000-8000
31
12.4
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Perceptions About Mid-Day Meal Scheme
125
FIGURE 2: Reasons for Liking Mid-Day Meals
60
56.6
50
40
29.3
30
27.7
28.4
Percentage 20
15.6
13.7
12.8
10
6
7.2
2.4
0
Served hot
Variety
Fresh
Feeling
Tasty
provided
hungry
Uttarakhand
Tamil Nadu
Parents of the primary school children are the indirect beneficiaries of the
MDM scheme, since mid-day meals help to liberate working women from
the burden of feeding their children at home during the day (Ravillion and
Wodon, 2000). The same can be confirmed from the responses of the par-
ents in Uttarakhand, as a majority (35.0%) opined that mid-day meals were
introduced by the government to reduce their burden, whereas in Tamil
Nadu, majority of the parents (43.3%) were aware that the government’s
intention to provide mid-day meals was to promote school participation.
Figure 3 depicts the parents’ opinions about the government’s intention to
provide mid-day meals to their children. Parents in Uttarakhand stated that
they send their children to school because it is difficult to manage them at
home (31.6%) and 25.0 percent of the parents responded that sending their
children to school costs them nothing as food, books and uniforms are pro-
vided free of cost. In contrast, Tamil Nadu parents (28.3%) responded that,
primary education is necessary to make their children literate and 26.6 per-
cent answered that imparting education to their children will provide them
with a better future. Parents in Uttarakhand (70.0%) and Tamil Nadu
(85%) accepted that providing mid-day meals is a good incentive for send-
ing their children to school. A high level of satisfaction with the MDM
scheme was found among both the parents in Uttarakhand (80.0%) and
Tamil Nadu (90.0%). The Uttarakhand parents demanded for more variety
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Vanmathy Anbarasan and Abha Ahuja
in the weekly menu and suggested inclusion of seasonal fruits and vegeta-
bles. In Tamil Nadu, majority of the parents requested for good quality of
grains. They were satisfied with the other parameters.
FIGURE 3: Opinion about the Government’s Intention to Provide Mid-Day
Meals to their Children

50
43.3
40
35
30
20
21.6
20
Percentage
16.6
15
13.3
13.3
11.6
10
10
0
Make
Satisfy
Promote
Reduce
Government
Children
Hunger
School
Burden
has lots
Healthy
Participation
of Parents
of Funds
Uttarakhand
Tamil Nadu
Perception of Functionaries
Resourceful administration at the government level and at the school level
is important for the successful running of the MDM scheme. This study
considered government officials as potential participants in adopting a
pragmatic approach in the management of the MDM scheme. All the offi-
cials (100%), both in Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu agreed that the monitor-
ing and evaluation of the functioning of the MDM scheme is regularly
conducted by government officials. Table 3 lists the perceptions of the
government officials about the MDM scheme. With respect to the manage-
ment of the MDM scheme, 60% of the officers in Uttarakhand suggested
that the scheme should be privatised, while the remaining 40% answered
that the teachers and cooks be provided with better training. In Tamil
Nadu, all the officers recommended an increase in the allotment of funds
per child and better school storage facilities.
Teachers are the key promoters of any scheme that benefits school chil-
dren. The success of the MDM scheme, depends on thow it is looked upon
by the school authorities and how it is implemented at the school. Majority
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Perceptions About Mid-Day Meal Scheme
127
of the teachers in Uttarahkand (33.3%) and Tamil Nadu (40%) were of the
opinion that, the MDM scheme was introduced to enhance the school en-
rollment, attendance and retention rates. In Tamil Nadu, 100% of the
teachers reported that the mid-day meals are provided regularly, proper ac-
counts are maintained and periodic monitoring of the scheme is undertaken
by government officials. Similarly, a large number of teachers stated that
ingredients were delivered regularly (86.7%), variety of dishes were pro-
vided in the weekly menu (80%) and regular evaluation of the MDM
scheme was conducted by the School Management Committee (SMA) and
Parents Teachers Association (PTA).
TABLE 3: Perception of Government Officials about Mid-day Meals Scheme
Particulars
Uttarakhand
Tamil Nadu
Yes (%)
No (%)
Yes (%)
No (%)
Mid-day meal scheme is meeting its
80
20
100
0.0
objectives as per the government’s
intention
Mid-day meal scheme has increased the
100
0.0
100
0.0
school participation among the children
Satisfied with the implementation of
60
40
100
0.0
the Mid-day meal scheme
Training should be given to the teacher
80
20
40
60
and cook
There is regular monitoring and
80
20
100
0.0
evaluation of the scheme by local
government
Figure 4 highlights the suggestions given by school teachers to improve
the MDM scheme. Majority of the teachers in Uttarakhand (40%) recom-
mended for the privatisation of the MDM scheme, and 60% of the teachers
complained that the MDM scheme was a burden to manage and impinged
on their teaching programmes. In contrast, the Tamil Nadu teachers (80%)
had no complaints on the MDM scheme.
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Vanmathy Anbarasan and Abha Ahuja
FIGURE 4: Suggestions of Teachers to Improve the MDM Scheme
55
53.3
50
45
40
40
40
35
30
25
20
20
20
13.3
15
10
6.7
6.7
Percentage
5
0
0
0
0
0
Need for
Honorarium Employ More
Privati-
Promote
No
Trained Staff
Increase
Cooks
zation of
Community
Suggestions
for Cooks
the Scheme Participation
Uttarakhand
Tamil Nadu
Cooks are directly involved in the preparation and service of mid-day
meals. The successful implementation of the scheme at the school level is
largely dependent on their devotion to work and work satisfaction. Table 4
shows the perceptions of school cooks about the MDM scheme. Majority of
the cooks in Uttarakhand replied that they disliked their job (60%) and were
dissatisfied with the salary (100%). In contrast, Tamil Nadu cooks liked the
job (90%) and were satisfied with their salary (80%). Majority (60%) of the
cooks in Uttarakhand reported that they were paid a low salary and burdened
with excess work. Whereas in Tamil Nadu, majority of the cooks (60%)
stated that they had no difficulties in fulfilling their tasks.
Implementation of the Mid-day Meal Scheme at the School Level
The implementation level of the MDM scheme was assessed in all the ten
schools under study, in both the states of Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu. It
was done using standard rating in the checklist, giving equal weightage to
the availability of infrastructural facilities in class rooms, cooking space,
storage area, presence of management committee for mid-day meals, con-
cern of the teachers and student’s satisfaction on the MDM scheme. Figure 5
shows the implementation level of the MDM scheme in the schools of
Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu. It was observed, that, barring one school in
Matkotta, Uttarakhand, the infrastructural facility in all the schools were
upto the mark. The school building in Matkotta, Uttarakhand was
dilaphidated and the children were made to sit outside the class rooms. All
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Perceptions About Mid-Day Meal Scheme
129
the schools in both the states had hand pumps for drinking water, except for
Nagla in Uttarakhand and Achampatti in Tamil Nadu which had purified tap
water. Schools in Uttarakhand had no proper storage facilities, whereas
schools in Tamil Nadu had storage rooms for stocking grains. All schools
had a management committee for the implementation of the MDM scheme.
However, schools in Tamil Nadu welcomed suggestions made by parents on
mid-day meals during the PTA meetings. All the schools in both the states
provided meals for children on all working days. The officials from different
government departments for checking and monitoring of the mid-day meals
made daily visits to schools in Tamil Nadu. Moreover, when compared to
schools in Uttarakhand, the schools in Tamil Nadu were observed to have
maintained proper records and bank accounts for the efficient management
of the scheme.
Similar results have been reported by Afridi (2005) in the states of
Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. When compared to Madhya Pradesh, the
higher attendance rate in Karnataka was attributed to better management
and implementation of the MDM scheme.
TABLE 4: Perceptions of School Cooks about MDM Scheme
Particulars
Uttarakhand
Tamil Nadu
Yes (%)
No (%)
Yes (%)
No (%)
Like the job
40
60
90
10
Satisfied with the salary

100
80
20
Regular visits made by the
40
60
100

government officers to monitor the
cooking process
Are children content with the portions
70
30
90
10
served
Do children assist in cooking
80
20

100
Hygienic practices followed during
40
60
90
10
cooking
Checking for grain infestations before
70
30
90
10
cooking
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Vanmathy Anbarasan and Abha Ahuja
FIGURE 5: Implementation of the MDM Scheme in the Schools
98
100
97
97
96
96
92
91
92
92
90
79
80
70
60
50
40
Percentage
30
20
10
0
Nagla
Haldi
’nalur
Aiyur
A
Rudrapur
Matkotta
Patarchata
Matupati
M’puram
Achampati
School
Effect of the Mid-day Meal Scheme on Enrollment, Attendance
and Retention Rates

To study the effect of the MDM scheme on school participation in the se-
lected schools of Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu, the increase in enrollment,
attendance and retention rates of the children from 2002–2007 was calcu-
lated using the standard formulas. The percentage increase in enrollment, at-
tendance and retention rates of the ten selected schools are listed in Table 5.
It was observed that the number of children enrolled in the selected
schools of Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu is increasing. The Matkotta
School is an exception and this can be attributed to the poor infrastructural
facilities. The attendance rates in all the selected schools have increased
during the last five years. In Uttarakhand, Patharchatta Primary School,
which has the highest attendance rate, the attendance has increased from
80.82 to 82.94% (2.12% increase) and the school in Matkotta with the low-
est attendance rate, has registered an increase from 78.3 to 80.07% (1.77%
increase) in the past five years. Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, Allanganallur
Primary School, which has the highest attendance rate, attendance has in-
creased from 88.49 to 92.76% (4.27% increase)and the school with the
lowest attendance rate, the Aiyur Primary School, has registered an in-
crease from 83.62–85.81% (2.19% increase) between 2002–2007. It was
observed that the retention rate in the schools of Uttarakhand varied from
IJSW, 72(1), 117–136, January 2011

Perceptions About Mid-Day Meal Scheme
131
5.25
2.19
77.04
Aiyur
m
r
a
u

2.21

p

88.35
80.76
M
Nadu
2.12
95.34
84.21
M’paty
Tamil
2.55
26.62
77.63
A’pati
4.27
17.86
81.35
A’nalur
2.12
56.86
34.78
P’chata
1.77
-52.45
20.63
Matkota
Rates
1.51
1.30
50.00
Haldi
Uttarakhand
Retention
1.55
16.00
38.04
and
Nagla
ears)
y
(5
1.63
16.96
43.47
R’pur
Attendance
2002–2007
from:
Enrollment,
percentage)
percentage)
percentage)
in
in
in
5:
ent
*Reference
Parameters
Enrollm
(Increase
Attendance
(Increase
Retention
(Increase
TABLE
Note:
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132
Vanmathy Anbarasan and Abha Ahuja
20.63–50.00%. Matkotta Primary School had the lowest retention rate of
students (20.63%) and the Haldi Primary School had the highest retention
rate of students (50%). In Tamil Nadu the retention rates were compara-
tively high as it ranged from 77.04% to 84.21%. The lowest retention rate
was found in Aiyur Primary School (77.04%) and the highest was in
Panchayat Union Elementary School in Mattupatty (84.21%).
The results can be supported by the study of Misra and Behera (2003)
regarding the positive impact of Nutritional Support to Primary Education
(NSPE) Programme on the growth of enrollment, attendance, retention and
the reduction of dropouts among children in primary schools in Orissa and
Tamil Nadu, between pre-MDM period (1989–90 to 1994–1995) and
post-MDM period (1995–1996 to 1998–1999). There was an observed im-
provement in average annual growth rate of enrollment, percentage point
increase in attendance and retention rates.
CONCLUSION
The study shows that the perception about the MDM scheme among the
beneficiaries and functionaries of Tamil Nadu is better than that of
Uttarakhand. The various factors contributing to this difference has been
thoroughly analysed and discussed in this article.
The school participation in Tamil Nadu schools has increased consider-
ably in the past few years due to the introduction of Activities Based Learn-
ing (ABL). Such an education system combined with nutritious food has
proved to be an attractive incentive for retaining the children’s interest in
classroom activities. This can be attributed as the main reason for the over-
all satisfaction and positive attitude of beneficiaries and functionaries to-
wards the MDM scheme in Tamil Nadu. In Uttarakhand, the mid-day
meals are tasteless and do not offer any variety. Even though the food is not
appealing, children eat the food to satiate their hunger. Most of the
school-going children skip their breakfast and are wholly dependent on the
free noon meals. Although, the resasons for sending their children to
school varied considerably between the parents of Uttarakhand and Tamil
Nadu, a significant number of parents across both the states reported that
sending children to school did not cost them anything as meals, books and
uniforms are provided free of cost.
Most of the functionaries in Uttarahkand recommended privatization of
the scheme, as they were unable to provide variety and quality demanded
by the children and their parents. It was found that in Uttarakhand most of
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Perceptions About Mid-Day Meal Scheme
133
the teachers were dissatisfied with the mid-day meals. They complained
that it adversely affected the teaching-learning process because of the addi-
tional burden of maintaining accounts. On the contrary, in Tamil Nadu all
such activities were managed by a specially appointed person known as the
‘Organiser’. He is responsible for regular updating of the mid-day meals
register, attendance of students, amount of grains utilised per day, daily ex-
penditure on fresh vegetables and fruits, daily fuel expenses and the main-
tenance of bank accounts for the MDM scheme, and so on. So the scheme
management is more organised and structured in Tamil Nadu schools than
in Uttarakhand schools. Therefore, the high enrolment, attendance and re-
tention rates in the schools of Tamil Nadu can be attributed to the efficient
management of the MDM scheme and the positive attitude of the benefi-
ciaries and functionaries. Moreover, as per the government’s instructions,
no examinations were conducted for children till ‘Standard V’ and no child
was detained in any class at the primary school level. However, the schools
in Uttarakhand, detained a considerable number of students every year and
this led to an increase in the retention rate.
The MDM scheme in Uttarakhand can emulate the model adopted by
the schools in Tamil Nadu. The researchers recommend the involvement of
the local governing bodies like the Gram Panchayat and the Village Educa-
tion Committee for efficient management of the MDM scheme including
cooking, serving and cleaning operations. Community participation and
employment opportunities can be enhanced through the involvement of
women SHGs and retired school teachers in the monitoring of mid-day
meals.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE STUDY
An important lesson gained from the comparative study between the two
states of Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu on the perceptions of the MDM
scheme is that, though both the states have access to similar government
funds and guidelines, efficient implementation of the scheme is largely de-
pendent on the attitude and involvement of the beneficiaries and function-
aries. Hence, instead of pouring additional funds into the scheme, it is
important to address these issues on a priority basis. The study strongly
calls for political and public support from all concerned states for success-
ful implementation of the scheme. This study also contributes to the devel-
opment of suitable policy framework for better administration of the
IJSW, 72(1), 117–136, January 2011

134
Vanmathy Anbarasan and Abha Ahuja
scheme. States like Uttarakhand, can benefit by adopting the model used in
Tamil Nadu, the fore runner of the MDM scheme.
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