‘Free breakfast for pupils to cost RM1.67bil’


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 10 Oct 2019

Fielding the press: Maszlee speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby. — Bernama

BETWEEN RM800mil and RM1.67bil will be spent on free breakfast for some 2.7 million primary school pupils next year in a move that has come under criticism by the Opposition MPs.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said two modules would be used for the programme which involves two different sets of menus.

He said the first module would require 30 minutes with a menu of a combination of cooked food and fruits.

“The second module requires 10 minutes and involves a menu of a combination of dairy or healthy beverages and ‘ready to eat’ or ‘on the go’ snacks such as bread, cereals, biscuits, cakes and boiled eggs, ” he said when answering a question by Sabri Azit (PAS-Jerai) yesterday.

Maszlee said teachers would be able to teach their pupils on healthy eating, being civic and table manners.

“It is also good news for teachers involved in the programme as they too will be provided with free breakfast, ” he said, adding that a pilot project started last month and would end in November involving seven schools in four states with pupils ranging between 47 and 2,380.

Ayer Hitam MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, however, said the government should reflect on its financial capacity before deciding to embark on this programme.

He said from the cost revealed by Maszlee, it could pose as a major financial burden to the government.

Noting that RM289mil was allocated for the Supplementary Food Programme in 2018, Dr Wee said the implementation of the free breakfast programme would mean an increase of some RM1.3bil in costs.

“I thought they said we were poor. They said they can’t assist some people in obtaining petrol subsidies, but then suddenly, they are allocating that (free breakfast programme).

“I’m not completely against the programme but we must look at our financial capacity, ” he said when met at Parliament lobby.

Dr Wee said free breakfast should not be given to the rich but needy pupils instead.

“I will be the first one to support this programme if it’s not for everyone. What is the point to give free breakfast to those who are rich?

“Most importantly, food must be given to those who are poor. Expand the programme to the B40, ” he said.

“If the government can afford it, then expand it to the M40. Now, even the T20 gets free breakfast.”

Dr Wee added that proper planning must be carried out before implementing the programme as some school canteens were not big enough to cater to every pupil.

“Imagine before class starts at 7.30am, where will the 1,000 pupils sit and eat? Are they eating in the classrooms?

“I’m urging the government to think this through. Otherwise, when there are problems next January or February, we will see yet another U-turn, ” he said.

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