Free food for all primary kids

Caring visit: Maszlee having a friendly chat with special children during their art class at sMK Merbok in the Kuala Muda district of Kedah. — Bernama Caring visit: Maszlee having a friendly chat with special children during their art class at SMK Merbok in the Kuala Muda district of Kedah. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: All 2.7 million primary pupils in the country will enjoy free food under the government’s breakfast programme to kick off in January.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said officials were checking on the type of food to be served.

“We want children to attend school being happy, ” he said in a Facebook posting yesterday.

Maszlee, who earlier spoke to reporters in Sungai Petani on the breakfast programme, said pupils in the afternoon session would also be covered.

According to a ministry official, suggestions from nutritionists and dieticians were being studied.

Maszlee also said it was most important to ensure that pupils get a nutritious and balanced breakfast for their growth and cognitive development.

The breakfast programme is in addition to the ministry’s milk menu included in the Supplementary Food Programme (RMT), which began on June 10.

The milk is for students from households grouped below the national poverty line. The inclusion of the milk menu in the RMT was to replace the 1Malaysia Milk Programme (PS1M), which was suspended this year.

The Governance, Procurement and Finance Investigating Committee is looking into corruption allegations involving the PS1M.

Maszlee said pupils would also be taught proper eating habits and discipline, such as washing their hands and cleaning up.

He said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was impressed with Japan’s concept of the programme where pupils received nutritional food and learned civic consciousness.

Last December, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said RM289mil was allocated for the RMT this year for pupils from hardcore poor families.

The allocation was to provide RM2.50 worth of food to pupils in the peninsula and RM3 for those in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan for 190 days, which is the minimum number of school days.

The remaining RM39mil would be used to supply milk or other food.

In 2018,489,117 schoolchildren in 7,316 schools throughout the country received the RMT.

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