By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro government’s Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE) on Wednesday, Aug. 4 turned over 13,607 kilos of food items to Basilan academic districts in pursuit of its school-based feeding program (SBFP) for school year 2021-2022.
The MBHTE was supposed to distribute hot meals through the feeding program, but the prevailing pandemic deters the plan. Instead, it opted to distribute to 10,000 elementary students in the island province upon their enrollment, the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO) said.
Wednesday’s distribution rites covered 13,607 kilos of food items including 11,107 kilos of anchovy and 2, 500 kilos of mungo beans, the BIO said, citing data from the office of MBHTE Minister Mohagher Iqbal.
Another set of 62,100 kilos of iron fortified rice is also set to be delivered in the island province in the following weeks, added the BIO, the media bureau of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
According to Surayfa Saddalan, nutritionist dietitian of MBHTE’s Health and Nutrition Unit, the SBFP is pursuant to R.A. No. 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act.”
“The law stipulated serving fortified meals to address the prevalence of malnutrition to school children. Thus, the Ministry allocated funds duly approved by the Bangsamoro Parliament to support the program covering 160,000 learners across the BARMM region,” Saddalan was quoted as saying.
For his part, teacher-in-Charge Rasid Khan Julkitli of Sibago Elementary School in the far-flung Sibago Island said their travel distance would not be a problem in ensuring that the ration will reach every learner in the school.
“We are grateful to the BARMM government for prioritizing the feeding program. Rest assured that the distribution to beneficiary students will be done faithfully,” Julkitli was quoted as assuring MBHTE workers in Pilipino.
Similar distribution processes will be done in the other component provinces Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, the office Minister Iqbal said.
In earlier statements, Minister Iqbal had emphasized the need for upgrading of physical and mental health among primary and elementary school populations in BARMM.
“Physically and mentally-fit students easily absorb classroom teachings. This is a goal we want to achieve to make the Bangasamoro region at par in education development with other regions of the country,” Iqbal once said. (PMT)