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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

10 Things You Need To Know About The Free Breakfast Programme

Yesterday, the Ministry of Education, Malaysia announced that starting January 2020, free breakfast will be available for all children in primary school all over the country.

The Free Breakfast Programme is called the Programme Sarapan Percuma or PSP and will be referred to as PSP in later parts of this article.

As soon as we shared this news with parents in the Malaysian Primary School Parents on Facebook group, we had a flurry of questions including

- What time will the children need to be in school for the free breakfast?
- How long will the breakfast be?
- How will they cater to the different dietary restrictions, vegetarian etc?
- Our school has so many students that we have to split the recess into two sessions. How will everyone be able to have the free breakfast at the same time?
- What about afternoon session kids?
- Will they feed our children with nutritious food?
- Who will monitor the food being distributed?

As usual, parents are split on their opinion regarding this. Some welcomed it as it will be good to help the needy. Busy working parents also welcomed it as they don't have to rush to prepare breakfast while there are others who said they prefer to provide their own homemade breakfast at home.

Today, the ministry came up with a FAQ on the Free Breakfast Programme, also called the PSP (Program Sarapan Percuma). You can read the entire FAQ here.

We summarize some of the points that parents have been asking below:

1. What is the Objective of the PSP?

- to provide a balanced and nutritious meal and encourage healthy habit of eating breakfast

2. Who is the PSP for?

- 2.7 million students in all government and government-assisted primary schools

3. What about preschool and secondary school students?

- preschool and secondary school students are not included in the PSP

4. When will the PSP be implemented?

- starting from the academic year 2020

5. How will the Free Breakfast Programme be managed and who will be responsible for providing the food?

- the PSP will be managed in the same way as the existing Supplementary Food Programme (RMT) and the food will be prepared by the school's canteen operator.

6. What time will the students have their breakfast under the PSP?

- 30 minutes between 7.00 am - 8.30 am for morning session and 12.00 pm - 4 pm for afternoon session

7.  How much does the breakfast cost for each student?

The Education Ministry is studying the right cost to ensure that all students can enjoy good and quality dishes.

8. How will the Education Ministry determine the menu and guarantee the quality?

- through continuous discussion with the Malaysian Ministry of Health and nutrition experts in a few local universities

- the Ministry of Education  is in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry and nutrition experts in local universities to ensure the quality of breakfast provided.

9. Was there a pilot project conducted for the PSP?

- a pilot project was conducted in a few schools since early August and expected to end in October 2019. The Ministry of Education will take the appropriate approach to implement a better and comprehensive PSP

10. What about the funds allocation for PSP? Is it coming from the sugar tax?

A Special Committee will be established to discuss in detail the allocation that will be used for PSP. The use of funds from sugar tax is part of the proposals that will be looked at by this committee.

While this is a good initiative to feed the needy as well as to establish and encourage good habit of eating breakfast, we hope that the implementation of it will run smoothly so that there is no wastage and that there will be proper quality assurance on the cleanliness of the meals and that the meal provided will be a good and well balanced one.

Perhaps there should also be some sort of form for parents to complete for those who would like to take up their allocation so that there will be no wastage since there are some who either prefer to make their own food or because of the timing, prefer not to participate in the PSP.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Sunway Putra Mall is Malaysia's First Autism Friendly Mall

Did you know that Sunway Putra Mall is Malaysia's First Autism Friendly Mall?

What does "Autism Friendly Mall" mean? 

It means the mall provides an inclusive shopping experience for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The mall has an autism –friendly initiative, called ‘Autsome’ which was introduced to address the needs of the autism community, especially parents with autistic children as this
allows them to enjoy a stress-free day.

At Sunway Putra Mall, every Tuesday is designated as Autism Friendly Shopping Day with dimmed lights and lowered volumes at common areas, reserved parking and shopping assistance for its 1000 Autsome members registered with the mall.

Calm Room At Sunway Putra Mall

Recently the mall completed its second Calm Room.  The Calm Room is located at a private area away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping mall. The room uses a facial recognition system exclusively only for Autsome members. 

The Calm Room is equipped with calming elements that help to ease stress when one’s sensory is overstimulated. The room also provides a sense of security and warmth. The Calm Room is painted in blue to set the tone for a calming experience and since individuals with autism are sensitive to bright lights, fibre optic. Warm lights are used in cloud shapes to soften the ambience in the room.
Essential oil is diffused into the room with a gentle scent which leads to a deep sense of relaxation. Bean bags, throw pillows and weighted blankets are provided for individuals with autism to relax.

Those who prefer to do quiet activities on their own can go to the  Art & Reading Corner that gives a cozy nook for one to read books, play jigsaw puzzles, doodle and more. The Calm Room includes a Sensory Wall, a tactile collage with a selection of textured materials on the wall. There’s also a Sensory Play Area that provides intriguing toys and musical instrument.

Go here to find out more about "Autsome" and how to become a member.

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