Sabah Ngo Asks Why So Much For Breakfast As Not All Pupils Need It Money Better Spent Elsewhere




All pupils in government and government-aided primary schools for both morning and afternoon sessions will be enjoying free breakfast from 2020
KOTA KINABALU: The free breakfast scheme for all 2.7mil primary pupils nationwide starting next year might not be the best unifying factor that the Education Ministry hopes it is, says Community Empowerment Initiative Sabah (CEI)
The NGO said the scheme is not a pressing issue as not all 2.7mil pupils need it, and there are already existing food schemes in place to help underprivileged students
CEI representative Gayle Jokinin said the free breakfast programme, which will cost between RM800mil and RM1.67bil is not totally suitable for Malaysians where its people are of multi-religious and cultural backgrounds
“First of all, not all 2.7mil pupils will need free breakfast as their parents are able to provide them with it at home or with pocket money in school,” she said,

She said there are other concerns that must be addressed in Malaysia before this Japanese-inspired practise can even be considered for implementation.

For one, Jokinin said unlike the homogenous Japanese society, Malaysians have numerous preferences for meals such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, among others.“There is also a RM289mil annual budget in place under a food scheme for students from underprivileged families in all schools where free meals and milk is supposed to be provided,” she said
She asked if the government or the Education Ministry had studied whether this existing programme was successful and if those who should be benefiting from it - especially rural students from Sabah and Sarawak - had really been benefiting
Jokinin said this has to be evaluated and its results reported before embarking on a new programme with an expensive budget
“In short, spending on those who are not in need is a waste of our resources,” she said, adding that the extra money should have been used to repair dilapidated schools in Sabah and Sarawak instead, as this is a more pressing issue
She questioned the rationale behind allocating more funds, at RM1.67bil for free breakfast, when there are hundreds of schools in Sabah and Sarawak that do not even have basic infrastructures such as water and power supply
“And the government only allocated RM783mil to repair dilapidated schools nationwide,” Jokinin said
She said Sabah has informed the Federal Government that Sabah needs RM3bil to repair a total of 587 dilapidated schools, including 91 that have been marked as unsafe
“But in the budget announcement, only RM78mil seems to be allocated to repair 19 unsafe schools for the first phase of implementation,” she said
She said the Education Minister Maszlee Malik has also said that the purpose of the free breakfast programme was to not only ensure that all students get a nutritious start to their day but to allow teachers and students to bond
To this, Jokinin said the Education Ministry should inculcate national unity through a revamped curriculum, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities
“While we have political leaders calling for the triumph of one race over the rest, how can breakfast for seven to 12-year-olds be a cure for national unity?” she asked
“We need subjects on culture and unity and practical focused activities towards this goal
“But let’s start with our history books, they need a total overhaul. Be honest with our history and we will be on the right track,” Jokinin added.- Star

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