The Gujarat High Court Bench on Friday, took suo moto cognizance of a news report on the findings of a survey by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which said that almost 85% of the parents who have enrolled their children in government school did not receive anything in lieu of the mid-day meals since the lockdown in March.
The bench comprising of Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice IJ Vora has termed this issue of the plight of poor students during this pandemic as “very serious” and has also sought an explanation from the State Education Department and the Commissioner of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme about the Mid-Day Meal scheme to the poor children since March.
The Survey was conducted over 357 low-income parents, which revealed that only 15% of the parents received Rice, Wheat, and/or pulses under the scheme, leaving behind the remaining 85% of the households who had enrolled their children in government schools.
As per the survey, since after the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 30% of the students were also not found to be engaged in any formal learnings from the school.
Along with these, the court also noticed that more than 40% of the parents with children at private schools are unaware of the State government’s effort for the Flat fee Reduction of 25% which was made during the lockdown period for the sake of public interest. But, despite this relief, 54% of parents were asked to pay the fees and among these, more than half of the parents have faced difficulties in arranging fees and meeting the deadlines. In fact, this is the main reason behind the students dropping out the school, as per the survey.
It was also found in the survey, that only 54% of the families were having TV Sets, and less than 2% had accessed to a laptop and 12% of the families were having access to wi-fi and emails.
The Bench, having noticed the above circumstances, issued notice to the Principal Secretary, Education Department, Government of Gujarat and Commissioner, regarding the Mid-Day Meal Schemes of State of Gujarat. The court stressed that the State’s attention should immediately be drawn to this and said the matter is very serious.
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