SILCHAR, July 31 - Mid-day meals in Government schools are envisaged to stop hunger and to improve enrolment of children in the schools.
Children come to school and the meals, cooked in the school campus, are served at a particular time of the day. So far, the scheme has been in the news for terrible accidents, including unhygienic preparation of the meals, or often cases of adulteration have hit the headlines. But a closer look at the 987 Rongpur LP School in Cachar district tells a different story.
Instead of being occupied with their classes and lessons, the students of the school were found entering the school with bags containing rice, dal and spices.
�As we were asked to bring the items from the nearby shop, we are obeying the instructions,� echoed the students. Interestingly, they were being escorted by the school teachers.
When quizzed about the reasons behind the engagement of students carrying the food items for the mid-day meal, teachers of the school lay the blame on Chandan Koiri�s shoulder, the head teacher of the school. As per the version of the teachers, the head teacher is virtually an absentee.
�Koiri Sir is hardly seen in the school. We struggle to arrange the items for the mid-day meal for the students. We are unaware about the procurement of the items of the mid-day meal,� said the teachers on condition of anonymity. They also admitted that the school does not have a fourth grade employee.
When contacted, Chandan Koiri reacted with disgust, saying, �I am only an in-charge head teacher of the school. This is because no one is willing to take charge of the school.�
He informed that he is a regular head teacher of 939 Shastri Nagar LP School of Doodhpatil and it is impossible for him to give equal attention to an additional assignment. Rejecting the allegation of involving school students to shop for the meal, Koiri said �I have entrusted the affairs of mid-day meal to Jalal Ahmed Laskar, president of the school management committee. The students must have brought the items for their domestic use,� Koiri clarified.
Echoing the in-charge head teacher, Jalal Ahmed denied the allegation of students buying the mid-day meal items and said that he does the shopping for the students.
On the other hand, District Elementary Education Officer Harendra Kumar Hazarika said that if the allegation is true, then it is a serious crime since there are specified suppliers for bringing the items to school. �I shall visit the school on Monday and take stock of the ground reality. The guilty shall be punished,� Hazarika stated.
Meanwhile, there are reports that Hazarika has a soft corner for Koiri, who is believed to be holding the post of head teacher for four schools together. Reacting to the reports, Hazarika said �I joined in the district in December last year. After I came to know that Koiri is discharging official duties at multiple schools, I issued relieving orders against 724 Madhuramukh LP School and 402 Doodhpatil LP School. We are trying to bring another person as head teacher for 987 Rongpur LP School,� Hazarika maintained.