Friday, August 19

Poser over free breakfast programme for Sarawak primary schools


File photo of primary school pupils for illustration purpose only.

MIRI: The question remains whether the primary school pupils in Sarawak will benefit from the first phase of the free breakfast programme (PSP) that is set to be implemented next year.

This was after the Sarawak Education Department said they have yet to receive any circular from the Ministry of Education (MOE) pertaining to this programme.

“We have not received any circular from MOE on this programme yet,” said Sarawak Education director Dr Azhar Ahmad when asked on how many schools in the state will benefit from PSP.

Miri MP Dr Micheal Teo Yu Keng when contacted, said he learnt that this programme was postponed due to funds constraints.

Nevertheless, Dr Teo said he is pushing ahead with his pioneering food coupon for 18 secondary schools in his constituency next year.

Deputy Minister of Education Teo Nie Ching was not available to comment on the issue at press time, while Pakatan Harapan Sarawak secretary Senator Alan Ling Sie Kiong, forwarded the ministry’s announcement dated December 27, this year.

To note, MOE was given the biggest allocation of RM64.1 billion in Budget 2020, including RM 1.6 billion under this supplementary food programme to benefit some 2.7 million primary school students nationwide next year.

The MOE had on December 27, announced that the first phase of PSP will be implemented on Jan 20, next year, at 100 primary schools nationwide.

It said the cost of the project, involving 37,000 pupils and 1,600 teachers on duty daily, is estimated at RM22 million.

The ministry also said the implementation of the first phase of PSP will use the concept of Grab ‘n’ Go which is made up of a milk drink or nutritious drink and snacks such as bread, biscuits, cereal, kuih, sandwich, fruits or hard-boiled eggs.

It said the selection of schools for the first phase was made based on schools with the highest percentage of students from the B40 group and it also took into consideration all types of schools namely national primary schools (SK), Chinese national-type primary schools (SJKC) and Tamil national-type primary schools (SJKT).

The MOE said the selection of schools was based on the total number of schools carrying out Supplementary Food Programme (RMT) in each state encompassing all locations, be it urban, rural and interior.

“The implementation also took into consideration the views of the Health Ministry which will allocate a nutrition science officer to each district to advise the schools on PSP menu.”

However, the ministry said permission of parents is required to obtain consent and important information on the health of pupils such as allergy to certain food so that alternative menu is provided.

The MoE said it is also planning to extend the programme to all 7,776 primary schools to benefit about 2.7 million students throughout the country.

However, it said the programme depended on the allocation received and the readiness of canteen operators and schools.