Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid

KUALA LUMPUR (March 12): The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) study that children living in the Public Housing Programme (PPR) homes here are suffering from malnutrition is not true, said Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

“We have a study. There are no such cases in school revealing that the children cannot afford (food) until they fare so badly. So far there has been no report from the teachers,” he told the Dewan Rakyat sitting today, Bernama reported.

Mahdzir also said that various initiatives to ensure the well-being of pupils in the country are being taken care have been also been carried out, such as the Supplementary Food Plan (RMT) for 458,483 pupils from the rural and low-income groups this year.

He said the RMT programme had benefited 515,028 pupils in 2017, 538,620 in 2016, 536,103 in 2015 and 559,383 in 2014), Bernama reported.   

Mahdzir was replying to a supplementary question from Nurul Izzah Anwar (Lembah Pantai-PKR) who wanted a clarification from the ministry on the Unicef study that was publicised last month. (Read story here)

The study revealed poverty and malnutrition rates among children living in the low-cost flats of Kuala Lumpur compared with the national average.

Entitled “Children Without: A Study of Urban Child Poverty and Deprivation in Low-Cost Flats in Kuala Lumpur” the study threw light on the impact of poverty on children living in such housing.

These range from poor early education to greater vulnerability to malnourishment, with potentially damaging impact on the children’s cognitive development.

“Children in low-cost flats live in Kuala Lumpur, within easy proximity to amenities; yet, have less access to nutritious food, don’t go to pre-school, live in perceived unsafe areas and have less opportunity to learn and play than most other children in Malaysia. The reality is poor children are among us but they often remain unseen. It’s clearly a data blind spot,” said Unicef representative in Malaysia Marianne Clark-Hattingh in a statement.

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