Not biscuits, cooked food in Mid-Day Meal Scheme: Minister

March 17th, 2008 - 10:09 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) Biscuit manufacturers hoping to dig into the expansive market of Mid-Day Meals Scheme were left high and dry when the government Monday said biscuits do not qualify as nutritious food. Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development M.A.A. Fatmi told parliament that serving biscuits as part of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme was not in the interest of school children.

Fatmi said he had last year received a proposal from biscuit manufacturers for serving “biscuits in place of hot cooked mid-day meals”.

A strong lobby of biscuit manufacturers was canvassing hard to use the Mid-Day Meal Scheme to expand their market. They petitioned various sections of politicians to get their proposal through. But the minister’s statement in the house put paid to their hopes.

The mid-day meal is part of the government’s exercise to get more children into primary schools. The government claims over 90 percent enrolment through this move. Fatmi said that of them, 82.5 percent were in government schools.

“We are offering incentives, including cooked mid-day meals to ensure universal enrolment of children in rural areas in the 6-14 age group,” the minister said.

On complaints about the quality of food being served to students under the scheme, Fatmi apprised the Rajya Sabha that state governments have been asked to inquire into such cases and initiate corrective measures.

He claimed that since the launch of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), all out-of- school children in the 6-14 age group have been brought into the fold of elementary education from the figure of 32 million in 2001-02.

Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, D. Purandeswari told the house that 76 institutions are conducting unapproved foreign university courses in the field of technical education. She was quoting the figures cited by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). While there were no authentic statistics available with regard to foreign educational institutions operating in the country, a list of unapproved institutions conducting such courses was available on the AICTE, she informed.

The AICTE has already issued public notices cautioning students, she said.

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