Deped addresses pupil hunger to improve school performance
More than 63,000 undernourished school children who have difficulty learning because they come to class on an empty stomach are benefitting from the breakfast feeding program which the Department of Education is implementing for school year 2011-2012.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the feeding program aims to address undernutrition and short-term hunger syndrome among public school children who do not eat breakfast and walk long distance to reach school.
“This is the most vulnerable group of children who have difficulty paying attention to the lessons in class because of hunger and are in danger of dropping out if no intervention is made, “said Luistro.
The program was initially implemented in Pangasinan, Bohol and Lanao del Norte. It will be expanded to 15 more divisions during the school year based on the prevalence of undernutrition in these divisions and the capability of school heads to manage and administer the program. The new beneficiaries are schools from the divisions of Quirino, Zambales, Batangas, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Sorsogon, Kabankalan City, Bacolod City, Negros Oriental, Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Davao Oriental, Sultan Kudarat, Surigao del Norte, Kalinga, Maguindanao, and Quezon City.
The target is to bring back to good nutritional status at least 70% of the beneficiaries at the end of the 100-120 feeding days.
“Our specific objective is to ensure 85 to 100% attendance among the target pupils and improve their health and nutrition values and behavior,” the education chief explained.
The breakfast feeding program was first implemented in 1997 and has since shifted to address a more serious problem of undernutrition – a global concern because it commonly causes death among children.
According to the 2010 report of DepEd’s Health and Nutrition Center, 15.58% of children in public elementary schools are undernourished. This condition, which according to the World Health Organization is preventable, have ill-effects on the academic performance of school children.