Madhya Pradesh has launched a scheme to set up dining tables in schools for mid-day meals, starting from the Guna district. So far, students in government schools have sat on mats on the floor to have their meals.
Nilesh Parikh is the CEO of Guna zilla panchayat.
What prompted the initiative?
Students stand in long queues and sit on the floor for mid-day meals. Last year, Rural Development Minister Mahendra Singh Sisodia floated the idea of setting up benches for meals. These benches, he suggested, could also be used for classes. His vision was to serve meals in a dignified manner on a table and not have students sit on tarpaulin sheets for meals.
Are you also teaching table manners to students?
We are using available resources to teach children the use of basic cutlery, napkins etc. Students are only given a brief set of instructions when the meals are served. The idea is to raise the standards of government schools, whether it is about serving meals or showing students how to eat it. We want students to have well-groomed personalities.
Is there a specific design for the tables?
These are basic benches made of cement and concrete. The surface is made of locally available stone and granite.
What is the budget for the project?
The cost comes to about Rs 50,000 per school. The construction work is being done through the MGNREGA. We aim to cover 100 schools under 80 gram panchayats in Bamori. We have completed 20 so far. Later, the project will be taken up across Madhya Pradesh.
How has the response from students been?
The schools have not opened so far because of Covid-19 guidelines. I’m sure they will be delighted.