The Education Ministry today released frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the proposed free breakfast programme for primary school students which it announced yesterday.
The FAQs were posted on Education Minister Maszlee Malik's Facebook page, which provided more details on the plan.
Among the salient points is that apart for breakfast for morning school session students, the programme will also cater to afternoon school session students by providing them with lunch.
It also revealed that the free meals, set to start next year, will be prepared by the school's respective canteens, and the menus will be prepared with input from the Health Ministry.
However, details on financing for the plan remain sketchy. According to the FAQs, the programme will involve feeding some 2.7 million students.
For comparison, the Supplementary Food Programme (RMT) allocates RM2.50 per student. Using the same costing, it would take RM6.75 million a day to feed 2.7 million students.
The total school days for 2020 have not been announced but for comparison, there are 214 school days this year which would translate to a total cost of RM1.44 billion.
The FAQs have indicated that the funding may come from the sugar tax that came into force last month.
The complete FAQs are as follows:
What is the primary objective for the implementation of the Free Breakfast Programme?
The implementation of this programme is intended to provide nutritious food that follows balanced calories and eating habits to ensure students practice the habit of taking breakfast, a healthy lifestyle and to stimulate their growth.
Who is the target group?
The target group is all government and government-assisted primary school students who are citizens, numbering around 2.7 million people.
What about pre-school and secondary school students?
Pre-school and secondary school students are not involved in this programme. Food for pre-school students involves a different procurement procedure.
When will this programme be implemented?
The Free Breakfast Programme will be implemented beginning with the 2020 school session.
How will the Free Breakfast Programme be managed and who will be responsible for providing the food?
The Free Breakfast Programme will be managed in the same way as the existing Supplementary Food Programme (RMT), and the food will be prepared by the schools' respective canteens.
At what time will students have their food under the Free Breakfast Programme during their daily school days?
The proposal is for the Free Breakfast Programme to take 30 minutes between 7am and 8.30am for morning school sessions and between 12pm and 4pm for afternoon school sessions.
What is the cost to provide breakfast per student?
The Education Ministry is scrutinising the appropriate cost to ensure all students enjoy a good and quality meal.
How will the Education Ministry determine the Free Breakfast Programme menu and ensure its quality?
The process to determine the Free Breakfast Programme is based on continuous discussion with the Health Ministry and nutritionists in a few local universities.
The Education Ministry, in cooperation with the Health Ministry, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry and nutritionists in local universities, will also take suitable measures to ensure a quality breakfast is served.
Has the Education Ministry conducted a pilot project for the Free Breakfast Programme?
To ensure smooth implementation, the Education Ministry is conducting a pilot Free Breakfast Programme in a few schools.
The pilot Free Breakfast Programme has commenced since early August and is expected to conclude in October.
Based on the analysis of the pilot Free Breakfast Programme, the Education Ministry will take the appropriate approach to implement a better and comprehensive Free Breakfast Programme.
What about the allocation to implement the Free Breakfast Programme? Is it coming from the sugar tax collection?
A special committee will be set up to discuss in detail the allocation that will be used for this programme. Using the collection from the sugar tax is one of the proposals being looked at by the committee.