Odisha Teachers Prepare Mid-day Meals as Govt Cooks on Strike

BHUBANESWAR: In Odisha, primary school teachers have now turned cooks as the All Odisha Pachika Mahasangha continues its indefinite strike seeking fulfillment of various demands.

All Odisha Pachika Mahasangha is a body of women cooks who prepare food for students under the Mid-Day Meals (MDM) scheme.

In Malkangiri, Nowrangpur and Koraput, teachers were found to cook food sans the absence of the cooks. In some places, the teachers even hired village women paying the Rs 300 per head to cook food.

Students in many schools on Friday alleged that their studies had been severely affected as the teachers were preoccupied with food preparation.

“A few days ago, our teachers had joined a statewide strike seeking their salary hike and fulfillment of some other demands. Our studies were then seriously hampered. Now, after rejoining their duty after the strike was called off, the teachers have turned cooks. We are again left in the lurch. We request the government to take necessary steps so that studies in our school will resume,” said a student.

“The studies of the student have completely been affected as school teachers have got engaged in preparing midday meals. The government must take immediate steps to see that an alternative arrangement is made and the teachers get full time to teach the students,” said Dr Gourang Charan Rout, an educationist.

The midday meal workers have been demanding an increase in their salary, maternity leave, two pairs of sarees per year and social security along with several other benefits. They have threatened to vote ‘NOTA’ (None of the above) in the elections if the state government does not fulfill their demands.

The cooks demanded Rs 26,000 salary per month, no disengagement of cook-cum-helpers from schools having less than 25 students, 10 days of casual leave and medical leave, EPF and ESI coverage and pension of Rs 3,000 per month after retirement.

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