Teachers in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh would rather have dogs taste midday meals than be guinea pigs themselves.
The local chapter of Rajya Adhyapak Sangh, the teachers’ association, has asked its members to feed the meals to stray dogs that abound near schools, observe the effect for 20 minutes and only then eat it and feed to the children.
The advice was in response to the government’s order to teachers, issued in the wake of the deaths in Bihar, to taste the meals before offering it to students. “What’s the logic in carrying out experiment on teachers? Why not on those who run Self Help Groups or people’s representatives? Never subject yourself to the experiment. Feed it to stray dogs that visit the school daily,” reads the one-page advice issued by the Sangh’s Jabalpur president Narendra Tripathi on July 20.
In large municipal areas, midday meals are cooked in a centralised kitchen and distributed by an NGO; elsewhere it’s cooked by SHGs near the school. Jabalpur has 2,389 schools and about 4,000 teachers. “We want to ensure safety of kids but should we be made guinea pigs?” Tripathi said when asked about the advice which, he said, is being followed.
The authorities, however, would have none of this. “If they don’t taste the food, they will be punished as it’s their duty,” CEO, Jabalpur District Panchayat, Shailendra Singh said. “They can do it jointly with SHGs but they can’t avoid it. Don’t doctors on VIP duty taste the food?”