Education ministry welcomes corporate sector support to tackle malnutrition among students

ALOR STAR: The Education Ministry is encouraging corporate bodies to support the government's effort to address the issue of malnutrition among school children.

Its minister Fadhlina Sidek said while the government was committed to addressing the issue by increasing the allocation for schools' Supplementary Food Programme (RMT), additional support from the corporate sector was very much welcomed. 

"Malnutrition has an adverse impact on the access to education and the students attendance rate, hence it requires an effective intervention. 

"Addressing poverty or malnutrition among school children also calls for synergy and cooperation from all parties in providing healthy meals to students in the target group," Fadhlina said in her speech at the launch of the state-level 2023 Healthy Meals Programme (Promak) Riang Ria Nutri held at Albukhary International University (AIU) here today.

Present were Bernas chairman Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, chief executive officer Zulkiflee Abdul Rahman and Albukhary Foundation advisor Datuk Seri Abdul Aziz Shahar.

Promak is organised and sponsored by Bernas with the cooperation of the Education and Health ministries.

The programme, which aims to addressing malnutrition among young children,  has benefitted almost 20,000 students in 93 selected schools located in Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu since it started early last year. 

Fadhlina said under the 2024 Budget tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim recently, the government has increased the allocation for RMT from RM625 million to RM784 milion, which was an increase of 25.33 per cent. 

She said the allocation for pre-school food supplementary programme has also been increased by 48 per cent from RM89 million to close to RM1.32 billion. 

Fadhlina commended Bernas for complementing the supplementary food and nutrition programmes under the ministry, such as RMT, Healthy Meals Programme (HiTS) and dairy milk programme. 

"Programmes like Promak are not only pivotal in addressing malnutritionamong students but it also helps in improving the attendance rate. 

"We were informed that an impact assessment carried out by Bernas on 45 schools that benefited from Promak in Kedah, found that the percentage of students' attendance improved by five per cent from 84 to 89 per cent," she said.

Fadhlina said the ministry would welcome it if Bernas wished to expand the programme to other schools nationwide.

Meanwhile, Rohani said nearly four million meals at a cost of RM6 each have been provided to nearly 20,000 students in the 93 schools involved in the programme. 

"Kedah is the biggest beneficiary with over 10,000 students from 45 schools.

"The lunch meals provided under the programme comprise of balanced foods as recommended by the Health Ministry," she said. 

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