Malaysian pupils and their parents or wards have been left in awe after Education Minister, Mr Mazlee Malik stepped down from office, thereby casting doubts and uncertainty over the initial promised project of providing breakfast for students in the one hundred (100) schools that had been selected as beneficiaries for the first phase of the project.
Mr Mazlee officially completed his exit from the post on Thursday the 2nd of this January and not only has his replacement not been announced by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, his planned project and plans to execute them have been put on a halt with no clue whatsoever as to whether it would still be taken up, or whether there would be an adjustment made to the initially proposed date.
The slated date for the commencement of the Free Breakfast Programme initiative was the 20th of January and although it’s still some days away, the green light for the initiative hasn’t been given yet with a lot of people (including parents/wards and students) investing their hopes that it should still stand.
One of the mothers of the pupils, Ms Nur Hidayah has also pulled up her hope as an investment to this project and doesn’t expect that it should be cancelled. Ms Nur Hadiyah has her three children attending the same primary school and beckoned on the government to not pull the plug on this promise and ensure that they make it a reality. She also said:
“Technically it’s a promise that you made to these young children,” “With my kids when I told them about it, they were excited to go to school. My youngest child even said he only wants to go after the 20th.”
She, however, wasn’t the only parent who had something to say about the current situation at hand as another mother, who is single and 33, Lee Lim Mei spoke out and said that the only avenue available for her children to have and enjoy good breakfast was this initiative given that she doesn’t earn much from her job as a sales assistant and since her husband left the family a year ago, can’t really meet the needs of the family.
She added that she has also told her children that they will be getting free meals in school while also stating that the kids have had to settle for just cream crackers for some mornings because of the state they’re in.
While families of that of Madam Lee and that of Ms Nur Hidayah would surely want the Programme to still come to life, some other people believe it shouldn’t, citing that it may only be a waste of money and resources, especially that of taxpayers because the estimated budget for the project was set at RM1.67 billion which is equivalent to US$408 million.
If there’s anyone who believes the project is a very much needed and one and beneficial to many, it has to be Mr Mazlee Malik as he pointed out that, despite continued criticism, it’s beyond the food and something more. Having said that, he continued that the programme was to be benefited from by a massive 2.7 million pupils in primary schools and that it would also help teach good eating etiquette and civic welfare to the students.
He said: “The programme will allow children to pick up civic lessons through learning the etiquette of eating, how to dispose of their food properly, washing their plates and more”
To prove just how much dedication he put in to foresee that the project makes a huge success, Mr Mazlee went as far as going o his Facebook page to carefully give out an overview as to how the activity would be carried out by stages.
He explained that January was the month for the first stage and would involve one hundred (100) schools and targeted thirty-seven thousand (37,000) students and one thousand, six hundred (1,600) teachers with the second staged to hold in June which would be carried out in five hundred (500) schools.
CNA conducted an interview with the Parents, Teachers Association (PTA) and representing the association was its secretary in person of Mr Mohd Fadlie Mohd Yusof who said there has been little or no information received yet.
“I am not sure if the ministry has decided but since we did not receive anything, we assume that we have not been chosen and so will just continue how we used to,” he said.
The Education Ministry meanwhile was represented by a spokesperson who reiterated that the programme is still under control and being worked on. In a response to questions from CNA, the spokesperson said: “We are waiting for the secretary-general (of the ministry) to finalise the matter, the list of the 100 pilot schools has also not been finalised”.