PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry has proposed a bigger allocation for the Supplementary Food Programme (RMT) in Budget 2023.
Its minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin said this was on the wish list submitted to the Finance Ministry for the upcoming Budget.
"We have asked that the rates be looked at again and increased as many canteen operators have raised this issue with the ministry," he told reporters after the Wadah Aspirasi programme here on Friday (Sept 23).
"Many canteen operators expressed their concerns over the rising cost of food and we have suggested a suitable amount to the Finance Ministry," he said.
Radzi did not, however, disclose the new proposed RMT rate per student.
The current allocation is too small and canteen operators with few students usually feel the pinch, Radzi added.
The Education Ministry currently allocates RM2.50 per pupil in the peninsula and RM3 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan for the RMT programme.
The RMT was introduced in 1979 to provide daily meals to poor students in schools.
It was improved in 2020 and meals are prepared by school canteens from over 20 menus, based on recommendations from the Health Ministry.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on July 22 that the current allocation for RMT was not enough.
"If you ask me as the Health Minister, the RM2.50 and RM3 spending for Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan respectively is insufficient to foot expenditure for raw goods under the menu that we (Health Ministry) have prepared," he said.
Khairy proposed that the current spending be raised to at least RM4 for Peninsular Malaysia and RM5.50 for Sabah and Sarawak so schoolchildren could get nutritious food.
"It's not the Education Ministry’s fault, the issue is the rising prices. The allocation has to be increased, otherwise the children are not getting the required nutrition," he added.
For Budget 2023, the Education Ministry has also requested an allocation for teachers to buy laptops, and for an increase in the special-needs education allocation.
On a separate matter, Radzi said the centralised reporting system to record student assessment results will be implemented by the end of the year.
Through the system, teachers and the ministry will be able to extract students results easily, he said.
The system could also aid in the preparation of timetables which were still done manually in some schools.