Team to probe Kerala’s ‘highly improbable’ data on midday meal: Centre – Hindustan Times

New Delhi Terming the midday meal coverage figures provided by the Kerala state education department for 2022-23 as “highly improbable”, the Centre has decided to send a team to verify the data and ascertain the authenticity of the reported coverage, according to the minutes of an official meeting.
The matter was discussed during a meeting held between the state and the project approval board (PAB) of the PM Poshan scheme, or the midday meal scheme, under the Union ministry of education on May 15. The meeting was held to review the status and progress of the implementation of PM Poshan in Kerala in 2022-23, and to chart an annual plan for the year 2023-24.
According to the minutes of the meeting, seen by HT, the Kerala state government told the Centre that it has covered 99% of the 1,691,216 students enrolled at the primary level (classes 1 to 5), and 95% of the 1,145,178 students enrolled at upper primary level (classes 6 to 8) under the scheme in the academic year 2022-23.
The data also showed that in some districts almost all the enrolled children in primary classes availed the school midday meals on all working days.
“This seems highly improbable. PAB decided that a team of representatives from central and the state government may visit a few districts to ascertain the ground level picture to verify the authenticity of the reported coverage by cross verifying data from various levels i.e. schools, blocks, and districts,” the board said, according to the minutes.
A senior ministry official, who asked not to be named, said that last year also the state reported very high coverage under the scheme. “The state government has now been advised to take up special measures to check the authenticity of the figures regarding coverage of students in both primary and upper primary levels from districts and submit an action taken report by July,” the official added.
The board further advised the state to ensure that data on the coverage of students from districts may be captured in the format of Quarterly Progress Report (QPR) for greater transparency, accuracy and accountability, the minutes read.
Kerala general education minister Vasudevan Sivankutty’s office did not respond to an email request for a comment. HT also reached out to the state’s education secretary for a response, but could not get one immediately.
Under the PM-Poshan scheme the Centre shares the cost with states and Union territories in a 60:40 ratio, and contributes 100% of the funds in UTs without a legislature
Fareeha Iftikhar is a principal correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. She tracks the education ministry, and covers the beat at the national level for the newspaper. She also writes on issues related to gender, human rights and different policy matters.…view detail


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