KUALA LUMPUR: Any form of food aid given to preschoolers and school children from targeted groups under the Preschool Food Aid (BMP) and Supplementary Food Programme (RMT) programmes should be of good quality and sustainable, say parent groups.
“There is a tendency for efforts to slack as time passes.
“An independent party like the parent teacher association (PTA) or parent representative should play their part to ensure programme standards are upheld at all times,” says Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairperson Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim.
She also welcomed the move to provide BMP aid to preschoolers regardless of their parents’ income.
“Preschoolers enjoy having meals with their friends, which could in turn improve their appetite.
“Adults in any position or role have a responsibility to ensure all children can enjoy nutritious meals while working towards eliminating any form of malnutrition,” she said when contacted.
The BMP is a form of financial aid allocated to preschool classes in public schools.
The funds are aimed at supporting the preparation costs of nutritional foods for preschoolers.
The RMT is a food aid programme for primary school students, targeted at those in rural areas and from lower income groups, to improve their health and physical conditions as well as eating habits.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin meanwhile said the BMP aid should be channelled towards selected target groups instead of being given across the board.
This allows better quality foods to be served, he added.
He said the government should also consider including private kindergartens under the BMP initiative as well.
“Although these parents are paying, there are still those who are not well to do. Some of these kindergartens are run by non-governmental organisations (NGO) and they deserve help too.
“We need a mechanism to determine who wants the free food in public schools or else there may be a waste,” he said, adding that it was also important to find out if there were deserving recipients in private schools.
In an interview with StarEdu on May 9, Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek said the BMP took a big chunk of the Ministry’s budget as it was given to every child regardless of their parents income.
She said funding for the RMT programme was also increased, by increasing its value per child and including preschools to address multidimensional poverty, especially in terms of malnutrition.
Under Budget 2023, the Education Ministry received the biggest slice of the pie at RM55.2bil.
Of this, the BMP programme received RM108mil, an increase from RM89mil, and set to benefit some 240,000 students.
The RMT programme meanwhile received RM777mil, an increase from RM625mil, and set to benefit some 700,000 students.
– The Star