A simple use of technology has helped streamline gross misuse of funds in government’s mid-day meal programme in government primary schools. Not just the meals; the inexpensive biometric device using general packet radio service (GPRS) technology developed by a Bengaluru-based techie has also come in handy to check teachers’ attendance in these schools and more importantly, the drop-out rate of students, which is rampant and often ignored by school authorities for various reasons.
A pilot project taken up by Bengaluru-based software entrepreneur — Mallikarjun Patil in a village school – Government Composite High School in Nagenahalli, Mysore taluk — has done wonders in controlling pilferage of food grains meant for mid-day meals and saved government lakhs of rupees. Ms G. Satyavathi, chief executive officer, Zilla Panchayat, Mysore taluk had sanctioned permission for the unique project.
“I had heard about the rampant misuse of government funds in the mid-day meal programme. I wondered how technology could be used to help reduce the pilferage and improve school administration in general. I devised a battery-operated biometric gadget using GPRS technology but I needed to conduct a field test to check its functioning.
I found this village school, which is 10 km from Mysore and I approached Ms Satyavathi, chief executive officer, Zilla Panchayat, Mysore taluk for permission. The pilot was launched in November last year with her support,” said Mr Patil. The biometric device has been tailor-made for remote villages, where power supply and net work connectivity are poor.
“The GPRS technology comes in handy to push the data from remote locations to the server in Bengaluru. We have also created various web reports, which have brought in greater transparency and has cut down on the paper work,” said Mr. Patil. He added that hardware is supplied by eSSL— a hardware firm in Bengaluru.
Deccan Chronicle visited the Government School in Nagenhalli to see how the device works.
The portable biometric device has a stored data of finger prints of all the students – from primary section to the high school and when they come to school at around 9 am they have to punch the machine to record attendance. Even the teachers including the heads of the institution have to record their attendance.
By 10 am Mr Patil gets the information on how many children have turned up for the day and he then sends an SMS to the head cook of the school on the amount of rice, lentils and vegetables she should use for the day. The names of regular absentees are sent to the head master — Rajendracharya and head mistress H. Hemaksha so that they can visit the child’s home and draw her/him back to school.
“The Deputy Director of Primary Education and department heads are kept in the loop on the teachers’ attendance. The web-based system also allows government to analyse the database on boy-girl ratio; caste and annual income of parents with the use of graphs and bar charts,” said Mr. Patil.
The Revenue Secretary, Rajiv Chawla, impressed with the project said that it’s a “foolproof method to check pilferage of food grains; students and teachers attendance. It’s a simple, inexpensive multi-purpose device, which has controlled many irregularities in government run primary schools; from the mid-day meal programme to checking teacher absenteeism and drop out rate of children,” said Mr. Chawla.