GS Paper - 2 (Welfare Scheme)

The mid-day meal scheme will now be known as PM POSHAN, with the Centre initiating a major political push pivoted around ‘child nutrition’, and announcing that around 24 lakh students receiving pre-primary education at government and government-aided schools will also be brought under the ambit of the scheme from next year.

What

  1. Under PM Poshan Shakti Nirman or PM POSHAN scheme, 24 lakh more children in pre-primary classes, currently covered under the ICDS will also be brought in.
  2. Last year, the government opened pre-schools called Balvatikas attached to angandwadis.
  3. PM POSHAN has been launched for an initial period of five years (2021-22 to 2025-26).
  4. Primary (1-5) and upper primary (6-8) schoolchildren are currently entitled to 100 grams and 150 grams of food grains per working day each, to ensure a minimum of 700 calories.
  5. The new scheme has a provision for supplementary nutrition for children in aspirational districts and those with high prevalence of anaemia.
  6. Under PM POSHAN, nutri-gardens will be developed in schools to give children “firsthand experience with nature and gardening”. Such gardens have already been developed in three lakh schools.
  7. A social audit is being made mandatory in all the districts. To promote vocal for local, women self-help groups and farmer producer organisations will be encouraged to provide a fillip to locally grown traditional food items.
  8. The scheme also plans “inspection” by students of colleges and universities for ground-level execution.

Flashback

  1. Under the mid-day meal scheme, hot cooked food is provided currently to students from Classes 1 to 8 — around 11.80 crore children in all, in 11.20 lakh government and government-aided schools.
  2. The National Education Policy (NEP) has also recommended that pre-school education should be formalised. This is a step towards that.
  3. Also, it will help prevent leakages and bring more transparency. We will become more hands on and nudge states to pay schools through the direct benefit transfer (DBT) mode, Pradhan told reporters.
  4. While the NEP also proposes breakfast in schools, the government has not taken any decision on that yet.
  5. PM POSHAN does not propose any hike in the honorarium of cooks and workers, though Pradhan said states are “free to do that”.