Mid-day meals is the flagship central government scheme, which aims to provide nutrition to students in government schools, special training centres and Madrasas by ensuring regular supply of meals during their school hours. The scheme is supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan by the Government of India.
However, this scheme like others is prone to its fair share of misuse. This is where Aadhar linking comes into the picture, and once implemented, this initiative of linking Mid-day meal scheme with Aadhar card has eliminated lakhs of ‘dummy students’. Here are the details.
Eliminating ghost-students with Aadhar Mandatory mid-day meal scheme:
The move to register all school children under the Aadhaar for the mid-day meals proved to be extremely beneficial.
It has helped the Human Resource Development Ministry to unearthed and eliminated 4.4 lakh ‘ghost students’. The schools in Jharkhand, Manipur and Andhra Pradesh have been facing the scrutiny in this regard.
In Andhra Pradesh, for example, 2.1 lakh claimants exist only on paper, while Manipur has about 1,500 ‘ghost students’. In Jharkhand, the names of 2.2 lakh non-existent students have been found.
Most states share the financial burden of the scheme with the centre at a 40:60 ratio. But the Centre is chipping in for most of the funds in the northeastern states, ratio being 90:10.
Data from 2015-16 and 2016-17 from the three states provided to the HRD ministry revealed vital insights. Several government schools in the states have been showing ‘ghost students’ on their rolls.
The ministry is still in the process of collating data from states, but available figures show fake enrollment of students in government schools. Furthermore, the number of fake students may go up further once compilation occurs when all the states share data.
An HRD official told, “We are yet to calculate the money saved through the elimination of fake beneficiaries.”
HRD Ministry’s take on ‘Aadhar mandatory for Mid-Day Meal Scheme’ initiative:
As of now, only 30 percent of the 11 crore students in government schools across India between class one to eight have Aadhaar cards.
The government aims to bring all students and teachers under the scheme by June this year. Beginning July, more than 100 million school children will compulsorily need Aadhaar to avail their mid-day meal.
“No one will be deprived of mid-day meals. Everybody will get mid-day meal and they will get Aadhaar card as well.”
– HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, clarified in Parliament
He said many beneficiaries already have the Aadhaar card and facilities will be made to enroll the remaining students as well.
“Individuals desirous of availing the benefits under the (mid-day-meal) Scheme offered at the Schools are required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar authentication…” reads the gazette notification.
“And individual desirous of availing the benefit under the Scheme offered at the Schools, who does not possess an Aadhaar number or has not yet enrolled for Aadhaar shall have to apply for Aadhaar enrolment by 30th June, 2017…” said the notification.
How to avail benefits under mid-day meal scheme
Between March and June 30, a student who does not have an Aadhaar, however, can avail the benefit of the mid-day meal, provided:
- he/she has the Aadhaar enrolment ID slip
- has a copy of his/her request form made for Aadhaar enrolment
- gives an undertaking by the parent or legal guardian that the child is not availing the benefit from any other school.
Furthermore, parents must furnish proof of relationship of the child with the parent or legal guardian. This can be done by submitting identification documents like a birth certificate, passport, ration card, bank passbook, employee state insurance corporation ID or a photo id issued by a gazette officer or a school principal.
“Provided further that the above documents shall be checked by an officer specially designated by the Department in the State Government or Union territory administration for that purpose,” the gazette notification said.
The notification, however exempts Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir from the requirement as of now.
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