The headmaster of a government-aided school, J P Anish, has found himself in a challenging situation, resorting to taking a loan of Rs 2 lakh to provide mid-day meals for 600 students at Vidyadhiraja LPS, Karakulam, Thiruvananthapuram. This drastic step was necessitated due to the delay in funds from the central government for the ongoing academic year.
State Government Points Fingers at Central Government
The state government has stated that the central government’s failure to disburse the allocated funds for the year has led to this unfortunate predicament.
Under the midday meal scheme, the central government is responsible for providing 60 percent of the total funds, while the state government covers the remaining 40 percent. This joint effort aims to ensure that students receive nutritious meals while pursuing their education.
Financial Struggles Amidst Delayed Funding
According to Headmaster Anish, the school had not received the necessary cash allocation for midday meals for the current academic year. Typically, the government provides Rs 8 per child per day to facilitate the midday meal program, which benefits students up to class 8.
Feeling the weight of responsibility, Anish decided to secure a loan of Rs 2 lakh from a cooperative bank to settle outstanding bills with shops providing vegetables and essential items for the midday meals. Additionally, he personally contributed Rs 50,000 from his salary to cover the expenses incurred for the months of June, July, and August.
Anish’s Plea to the Education Authorities
To address this dire situation, Headmaster Anish filed a formal complaint with the Assistant Education Officer (AEO), accompanied by the loan receipt he obtained on August 27.
It’s worth noting that in the previous financial year 2021-22, the central government provided the second installment of Rs 132 crores. However, this amount was later reclaimed by the government, leading to a dispute between the state and the center. The state education minister’s office has been in consistent communication with the union education ministry, asserting that the funds in question had already been disbursed by the state government. Six letters have been dispatched to clarify this matter.
This situation sheds light on the challenges faced by educational institutions in ensuring the well-being of students when government funds are delayed or disputed. Headmaster Anish’s dedication to the welfare of his students, demonstrated by his personal financial contribution and loan, is a testament to the importance of midday meal programs in sustaining students’ health and education.