Just recently, the Malaysian government came under scrutiny after it was announced that the free breakfast initiative that was previously introduced in 2019 under former Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, will no longer be continued. The initiative had initially been offered as a means to help provide consistent meals to students that fall on or under the poverty line, ensuring that they receive adequate daily nutrition.
Free meals are provided by the school system
Ongoing debates concerning the need for food welfare assistance programs such as these have since brought to light the plight faced by children coming from impoverished backgrounds, especially with regards to obtaining the necessary dietary requirements to grow. One such case was recently highlighted by a local schoolteacher, who took to sharing her experience on the community Facebook page, Cikgu Shares.
As prescribed by the National Recovery Program, school students are now meant to be separated into 2 groups, namely Group A and Group B, and will be attending physical classes on a rotational basis with classroom capacities capped at 50% to ensure proper social distancing measures are enforced. According to the schoolteacher, she had noticed that a student that had already attended physical classes from the week before wound up coming to school during the following week, according to Astro Awani.
Assuming that he was not aware of the rotation system, she explained it to the student. “You already came to school last week. You don’t have to come to school this week. Study at home. Come back to school next week.” To which the student responds with a silent nod.
And yet, the student still showed up the day after.
“I was surprised, as I had already told him that he wouldn’t have to come to school before. I told him the same thing again.” she said, and was met with silence from the student who sat with their head bowed.
Despite having told the student repeatedly that they would not have to come to school throughout the week, the student still insisted on showing up. In fact, the schoolteacher even points out that the student’s friends had even advised him not to come to school.
Student came to school to eat
When it came time for the schoolteacher to supervise break time, she noticed that the student was a recipient of the Supplementary Food Program.
“He ate his chicken curry and rice with a lot of enthusiasm. It looked as though he was starving.” she observes.
Only then did it occur to her that the student may have been coming to school on a daily basis in order to fill up an empty stomach on the free meals provided through the welfare system. From that day onwards, the teacher decided that she would no longer question the student, and simply allow them to come to school to receive free meals.
The Facebook post has garnered much sympathy from Malaysian netizens, many who have pointed out the fact that the parents of these children may be facing financial difficulties in light of the protracted lockdown periods that have led to unemployment.
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