Archive for the ‘Children's Safety’ Category

Dangerous when wet

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

IT is reported that at least one person dies every day from drowning in Malaysia but many are still not aware of the dangers involved when doing water activities. They also do not know how to keep safe at water recreational spots.

And this is worrying authorities, as the number of drowning cases tends to rise during school and public holidays, weekends and the monsoon season.

‘’The rate of deaths due to drowning nationwide each year has been three to four times that of fire victims since 2018. Most of the drowning victims were school students and normally, the victims were not local residents of the area,” Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid told reporters recently.

From 2016 to 2018, JBPM recorded up to 15 spots as high-risk drowning areas nationwide, with frequency of death by drowning at more than five victims. Around 39 moderate-risk areas – involving less than five victims – were also identified.

This year the JBPM is monitoring six hot spots identified as high-risk drowning areas nationwide: five river spots in Kedah, Perak and Sabah and one waterfall in Terengganu with 14 deaths recorded due to drowning as of October.

Mohammad Hamdan added that the department is also working with local authorities to identify non-recreational water bodies with high risks such as unused mining pools, drainage ditches and runoff areas.

Often these unsupervised and unsecured areas are enticing as play areas for children and youths. However, these spots can pose potential dangers such as steep drop-offs, entrapment hazards and strong currents, even for those who know how to swim.

JBPM advised parents to talk to their children about the dangers, especially during the monsoon season.

“Don’t let your children go off alone without adult supervision. And report to local authorities of any potential water hazard in your neighbourhood,” said Mohammad Hamdan.

Another measure the JBPM is considering is stopping all water activities during the monsoon season, especially in high-risk areas.

Said Mohammad Hamdan, this measure, which has been adopted in Terengganu – to halt all activities on its resort islands during the monsoon season – has been effective in preventing and reducing drowning and other water accidents.

Ultimately, however, the public needs to be vigilant and take the necessary measures to keep safe in the water, he cautioned.

“Every school holidays, like now, many parents will take their family and children on water outings and to do various water activities. It is important that they keep safe when their children are around and in water.

Here are some basic water safety steps that you can take when going on a water outing:

1 Supervision is rule watch your kids.

According to WHO, one to four year olds are at the most risk to drown in a pool or accidentally fall into water without the proper survival skills.

2 Look for natural warning signs in your surroundings

Use your common sense! Understand the risks at the water spot. Know your and your family’s ability to cope with them.

3 Always swim in recognised and safe swimming locations. Don’t do any water activities in “strange” or “new” waters you are not familiar with. Designated swimming areas are usually cleared of underwater hazards and have lifeguards on duty.

4 Observe the posted signs in the area Signs warn of dangers and give information on the area including the prohibited activities there.

5 Know your family’s swimming ability

Just because you know how to swim doesn’t mean you can’t drown, say experts.

Swimmers’ false sense of security can push them to take risks in the water, like swimming alone. This is also why would-be-rescuers often become drown victims themselves.

6 Check the weather and water conditions

Don’t have any water activities in bad weather and when the tide is rising or receding.

If a storm or rain is forecast, it’s best to make other plans.

7 Wear suitable clothing Use a life jacket and float if required.

8 Don’t get into the water to rescue a drowning victim if you have no water rescuing skills Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.

The different strokes

Swimming in an open body of water (like a river or ocean) is different from swimming in a pool. But both have their risks and basic safety measures should be taken:

At a swimming pools and water-theme parks

  • Spot the lifeguardl Designate a Water Watcher

Assign a parent or adult in your group to be in-reach at all times of the children in the pool.

  • Avoid distractions

No phone, no reading, no sleeping, no chatting. Your eyes should only be on the water. Use your phone only if you need to call 999.

  • Look out for pool drains

With its strong suction pressure, pool drains can trap swimmers underwater and cause them to drown.

At waterfalls

  • Observe the posted signs
  • Don’t swim under powerful waterfalls
  • Look out for slippery rocks
  • Get out of the water in heavy rain At rivers
  • Never swim alone
  • Check the water speed

Try this test: Throw a short log into the water, if it’s pulled under or swept quickly downstream, don’t swim!

  • Know the weather upstream

Rain upstream, especially at the headwater, can cause a strong water surge.

  • Check for crocodiles

At beaches

  • Look out for warning flags
  • Avoid any water activities in bad weather
  • Obey the danger sirens and warning announcements
  • Get out of the water if the water suddenly recedes drastically

At lakes and ponds

  • Use a life jacket and float if required
  • Avoid weedy areas

A weed forest can entangle a swimmer’s legs.

  • Check for algae

Algae can cause skin rash, eye irritation, bacterial infection.

  • Scout out the extent of the shallow water, set clear boundaries Lakes are usually very deep.

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Schools urged to seriously ensure students’ safety

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Schools have been urged to take greater actions to ensure students’ safety in the school compound.

Following the rape case in Tawau involving seven SPM students, Sabah Education Director Dr Mistirine Radin said the 14-year-old victim is currently undergoing counselling sessions.

She said the department has yet to finalise further actions to be taken upon the students.

“This is shocking and devastating, especially since it happened in the school compound…students are supposed to be safe in school.

“Although it is SPM season now, other students are still scheduled to come to school,” she said after the Orang Asli and Indigenous Adult Class (KEDAP) 2019 certificate presentation ceremony here on Tuesday.

On Friday, a Form Two student was found half nude by a female teacher in a switch room of a school in Tawau.

She claimed that two boys had raped her, four forced her to perform oral sex on them, while another boy watched the incident.

The suspects had since been remanded for three days before allowed police bail to enable them sit for their SPM examination.

On the KEDAP programme, Mistirine said it was aimed at raising literacy among indigenous people.

She said it would not only motivate their children to obtain knowledge but also equip themselves with basic skills of reading, writing, and calculating.

“The department will be sure to provide various support and services to schools and students which is translated through our efforts to improve the quality of our services.

“The department will also continue to strengthen its delivery system which includes a restructuring in the department and district education offices,” she said.

The ceremony saw 265 participants graduating from 14 schools in 12 districts namely Beluran, Keningau, Kota Belud, Kudat, Lahad Datu, Pitas, Ranau, Sandakan, Semporna, Tawau, Tongod, and Tenom.

By DK Ryni Qareena.

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Rising – sexual crimes in Sabah

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

File photo from Bernama.

KENINGAU: The increase in the number of child sexual crimes in Sabah from time to time is not only in urban but also rural or interior areas, said Commissioner of Police Datuk Omar Mammah (pic).

He said Sabah’s sexual crime statistics so far this year showed an increase of 374 cases compared to 302 cases last year.

“These cases include rape, incest, outrage, disgrace and obscene,” he said when closing the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) Sabah Contingent Sexual Crimes Awareness Campaign held at Keningau Campus Teacher Education Institute, here.

He said the Sabah police sexual crime awareness campaign was a major effort by police in reducing crime rates involving children and adolescents.

Omar said the campaign was aimed at exposing students and the community to aspects of child crime prevention and understanding of law enforcement in the context of creating a harmonious and peaceful society.

The campaign also provided basic knowledge to children and the public on legal aspects of litigation and preventive measures in dealing with cases of sexual crime, in particular in Sabah.

He said the involvement of community leaders, educators and students is important and has become a medium for communicating knowledge of sexual crime to the local community. Cases spanned a wide range of ages, especially that of teenagers and children are very alarming.

“If we understand the definition of child sexual abuse, it refers to any individual behaviour that forces, misleads or intimidates children into inducing sexual relation with the perpetrator to satisfy sexual desire.

“This sexual crime has a wide range of understandings that include not only rape but also sexual acts, incest, outrage, sodomy, obscene and disgrace.

“Crime among children and teenagers today will give impact on individuals, families, communities and the country,” he said.

Touching on criminal cases, Omar said the involvement of teenagers and children, including students, in crime behaviour and misconduct, as often expressed through the media, should be taken seriously.

He said early exposure to sexual crime should start from the family institution itself and play an important role for parents and guardians to convey knowledge to children.

Efforts should be intensified, including at the school level and higher education institutes, to study the root causes of this problem and to give them guidance and awareness on the negative effects of criminal behaviour not only on society but on the future of the individual and the country.

“Due to the rising number of child sexual abuse cases and the growing public interest in the community, the Government and the authorities are intensely concerned about the issue involving these children until Parliament has enacted a new law, the Sexual Offences Act on Children 2017, effective July 10, 2017.

“This Act applies to any victim under the age of 18 and it is punishable by a higher penalty for each offence.”

However, he said this would be extremely difficult to achieve if the people were afraid to approach the police.

“The whole community is welcome to be the eyes and ears of the police, whether by coming to the police station or channelling any information via telephone.”

Nearly 1,000 people, including Sabah Contingent Police Crime Investigation Department Head and Campaign Coordinator, SAC Jauteh Dikun, senior police officers of the Sabah Contingent Headquarters and Keningau Police Headquarters, heads of state and federal government departments, community and religious leaders, teachers and students from Keningau, Tenom, Tambunan and Nabawan attended the one-day event.

By: Johan Aziz.

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Parents reminded to monitor children’s activities on social media

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
Dr Wan Azizah said this at the #KidsTakeOverParliament: Kita Peduli programme at the Banquet Hall of Parliament building today.-Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has reminded parents to play a more proactive role in monitoring their children’s activities on social media to prevent them from falling prey to sexual exploitation.

She said the issue of exploitation of children for sexual crimes was very worrying, especially in the current borderless digital world that provides easy access to gadgets and the Internet.

“We need to instill awareness on the prevalence of child grooming for sexual crimes in social media and we want children to be equipped with information and guidelines so that they will not become victims,” she said.

She also highlighted the atrocious nature of the Dark Web that allowed child pornography to be downloaded by Internet users in Malaysia.

Dr Wan Azizah said this at the #KidsTakeOverParliament: Kita Peduli programme at the Banquet Hall of Parliament building today.

It was also attended by Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching and UNICEF permanent representative in Malaysia Marianne Clark-Hattingh.

The programme, organised by the Education Ministry, UNICEF Malaysia and Project ID, addressed the issue of bullying in schools in the country and was participated by 40 students nationwide.

On bullying, Dr Wan Azizah said the problem could be tackled through the education system with support from family and the community.

“We all have our role and responsibility, we need to inculcate a positive environment so that this trend of violence can be curbed,” said Dr Wan Azizah who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister.

Teo, in her speech, said the Education Ministry had cooperated with various agencies to provide psychological support for victims of bullying to ensure their well-being.

At the programme, the children believed to be victims of bullying, presented their views on the issue and proposed anti-bullying measures that can be implemented in schools.

By Bernama.

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MPWS: Need to educate people on immunisation

Thursday, October 31st, 2019
KOTA KINABALU: Vaccination awareness programmes are necessary in the State so that the public, especially parents will realise the important role they play in reaching full immunisation.
To educate on the safety and efficacy of vaccination as well as dangers of remaining unvaccinated, Sabah Women’s Advisory Council (MPWS) Health Committee organised an Immunisation Awareness Seminar at Wisma Wanita here, Wednesday.
MPWS Chairman, Datuk Noni Said when officiating the seminar said the programme is vital in providing knowledge and awareness to the public on the importance of immunisation.
She said immunisation is a simple and effective way of protecting children from serious diseases and it not only protects the child from deadly diseases but also keep other children safe by eliminating or greatly decreasing dangerous diseases that can be spread from child to child.

“When children are not vaccinated, they are at risk of catching diseases than can spread to other children in their play groups, school and communities, including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated.

“I hope the people who participated in this seminar will go back and spread the awareness on immunisation to their families and friends in achieving health priorities through vaccination,” she said.
Noni said immunisation is also important to reduce the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, especially when the disease comes from the unvaccinated immigrants in the State.
“When we are exposed to a disease in vaccine form, our immune system is able to build up antibodies that protect them from contacting the disease.

From my non-medical view, even if we get the disease it would not be as bad as the one who did not get immunisation,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sabah Health Department Chief Assistant Director, Dr Prabakaran Dhanaraj said according to  statistics, there are 14 people in the State who have refuse to get vaccinated, from Jan to June, this year.

He said that many of the people are well-educated and they also appear to be victims of widespread misinformation.

“Anti-vaccination has been going around for about 100 years and every time they get new information, they tend to make it an issue. It seems that the more educated the person is, the more they are easily convinced. It should be the other way around.
“People are more informed now, but some of them decided not to get vaccinated,” he said.
He also said the State Government needs to have a policy on immunisation for refugees and immigrants.
“Most of the immigrants in Sabah do not get vaccinated and they are working here. So we need to find solutions for this so that they will not affect other people if there is a disease outbreak coming from them.
Prabakaran said vaccine is the cheapest form of prevention against diseases and deaths.

He said the government incurs an immunisation cost of RM15 million to RM20 million a year.

“We need to encourage people to get vaccinated, it is free for Malaysians,” he said.By: Ottey Peter.

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25 schools in Putrajaya to closed tomorrow if API reading exceeds 200

Monday, September 16th, 2019
As many as 25 schools in Putrajaya will be forced to suspend classes on Tuesday if the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading exceeds 200 which is ‘very unhealthy’. (NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH)

PUTRAJAYA: As many as 25 schools in Putrajaya will be forced to suspend classes on Tuesday if the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading exceeds 200 which is ‘very unhealthy’, according to the Deputy Director (Planning) of the Federal Territory Education Department, Dr Roslan Hussin

He said the department would monitor the API reading from time to time and schools would be required to close if the haze reading exceeded 200 to ensure the health of students and teachers stayed protected.

There are 25 schools in the Putrajaya area of which 15 are primary schools and 10 are secondary schools.

As of 4pm this afternoon, the reading of the API in Putrajaya was 196 which is unhealthy.

“We are monitoring the reading of the API in Putrajaya. The director of the Federal Territory Education Department has asked all principals and teachers to come up with an appropriate plan including postponing all activities outside the classroom based on the reading of the API,” he said when contacted here today.

Putrajaya became the latest area to register a very unhealthy API reading today with a reading of 202 at 12 noon.

By Bernama.

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Haze crisis: N95 mask offers best protection

Saturday, September 14th, 2019
Malaysians are advised to wear the N95 face mask when outdoors to protect themselves from the severe haze currently affecting most parts of the country.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are advised to wear the N95 face mask when outdoors to protect themselves from the severe haze currently affecting most parts of the country.

Senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh said the N95 mask is designed to filter at least 95 per cent of tiny, 0.3-micron particles – provided it is worn correctly, with a good fit to the face of the wearer.

He also stressed that the surgical blue or green fabric mask widely used by the public is less effective in providing protection against toxic air.

“The (popular) three-ply surgical mask cannot filter out toxic gases and fine particles of less than 2.5 microns.

“It is important to recognise that most of the harmful substances in the (haze are) toxic gases and very small particles, most under 2.5 microns in size,” he told Bernama.

Amar said that an analysis of the haze has revealed that it contains gasses such as carbon monoxide, cyanide, ammonia, formaldehyde, acrolein and benzene – some of which have carcinogenic effects.

“Ultra-fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 microns or less) often lodge deep in the lungs and have short and long-term effects on cardiovascular and pulmonary health,” he added.

Meanwhile, Health Department director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that exposure to the haze can lead to asthma, cough, eye irritation and lung infections.

He urged the public to avoid outdoor activities and to stay up to date on the haze situation via the Department of Environment’s portal,

Further information on health effects and preventive measures which can be taken against the haze is available at

By New Straits Times.

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Breakfast for all

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

All pupils in government and government-aided primary schools for both morning and afternoon sessions will be enjoying free breakfast from 2020.

BREAKFAST is the most important meal of the day.

Come January 2020, the well-intentioned plan is to ensure all 2.7 million pupils throughout the country in government and government-aided primary schools for both morning and afternoon sessions have something to eat before they begin classes for the day.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik announced on Monday that this is the Free Breakfast Programme, or better known by its Malay acronym, PSP or Program Sarapan Percuma.

The programme will follow the same model as the Supplementary Food Programme (RMT).

So far, the only factor that differentiates the PSP from the RMT is that the new programme will benefit all primary school pupils across Malaysia.

The RMT however, is limited to those from households grouped below the national poverty line, with an allocation of RM289mil this year.

In 2018,489,117 schoolchildren in 7,316 schools throughout the country received the RMT.

Under the RMT programme, poor students nationwide are given complete meals with fresh fruits and a soya bean drink every morning.

More than 20 types of meals are provided under the RMT programme, which include chicken rice, nasi lemak, fried noodles, bee hoon, roti canai, lontong, soto, nasi paprik, cereals and soup noodles.

Maszlee said it is most important to ensure that pupils get a nutritious and balanced breakfast for their growth and cognitive development.

“Pupils will sit with their teachers, learn proper eating habits and discipline, such as washing their hands before eating, clearing up after their meal and so on, ” he added.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government has the budget for the PSP to be implemented in all primary schools next year.He said the government could use the consolidated fund from the various ministries and agencies to implement the programme to benefit the pupils.

Asked whether the government would use part of the soda tax revenue to fund the programme, Dr Mahathir said all proposals would be looked into.

“All taxes collected will be distributed to the ministries and agencies according to need. If there is a need for an additional allocation, we will consider.

“If we can afford it, we will provide it, ” he told Malaysian journalists after concluding his three-day official visit to Vietnam on Wednesday.

Asked about the perfect menu for the pupils’ breakfast, Dr Mahathir said there were many healthy menus which were suitable for the programme.

Saving grace

The PSP sounds like a dream come true for some parents who struggle to ensure their children get a chance to eat a decent meal.

This is not limited to being poor and not having enough food as working parents may not have enough time to prepare breakfast for their children in the morning.

Many parents have to leave for work early in the morning or have to rush to get their children ready for school.

This does not leave much time for them to prepare breakfast, let alone for the child to eat it.

Mother Kay Tan who has four children, said getting all of them up and ready on time is a real challenge.

“Not every parent is adept in the kitchen so I’m thankful that the government is providing breakfast for those in primary schools, ” she said.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin is cautious about the implementation of the initiative.

Although he said it is “good”, he wants to know whether pupils will be able to make it on time to actually eat the food.

On instilling discipline through communal eating with the teachers and washing their own utensils, he said this should be learnt at home.

“Teachers just reinforce these qualities, ” he said.

He also foresees problems of food wastage if the child doesn’t want the food or has already eaten at home.

Father of two, George Ling, said the government also needs to look into the possibility for those who want to opt out of having their children eat at school.

“Some may prefer their children to eat at home, ” he added.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) welcomes the minister’s announcement.

Its secretary-general Harry Tan called it a “unifying hope” to treat Malaysians equally, especially students.

“This is a long overdue step.

“It gives a strong message to pupils that all of us, no matter what our race, religion and social status is, we are all equal.

“All sensitivities, however, must be taken into account when preparing and providing the food, ” he said.

Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam commended the ministry, saying a large number of pupils go to school with an empty stomach.

“They go to school in a hurry by just consuming a drink because their parents are busy or because they have to rush for their school bus; the first meal of the day is vital.

“Back in the day, food was supplied to poor pupils.

“We should congratulate the ministry on their effort but the management of it must be done with the help of Parent-Teacher Associations, ” he said.

Siva Subramaniam said there will also be added value to pupils’ attention during lessons.

“They won’t be thinking about their empty stomach.

“Taking care of our pupils will enhance their day for better education, ” he added.

Although secondary school students are not part of the programme, Siva Subramaniam urged the ministry to look into the possibility of extending the programme to them as well.

“Many secondary school students also go to school without breakfast, ” he pointed out.

Details first, please

School heads remain cautious regarding the implementation of the new programme.

Noridah Abdul Aziz, the headmistress of SK Bandar Tasik Kesuma, Selangor, said she now faces a logistical dilemma.

Her school’s canteen can only accommodate around 300 pupils, which is around 12% of the school’s population of 2,500 pupils.

Although they are divided into two sessions, there are still more pupils than available space in the canteen.

There are three recess times in the school to cater to the huge student population, she added.

She also said that the numbers keep growing and this is not even including their 126 teachers who are required to join the pupils during meal times.

“We are waiting for the ministry to issue formal instructions on how the programme will be implemented, especially for schools with a large student population.

“How will we arrange the pupils to eat breakfast because our space is small?” she questioned.

She said the pupils are not expected to eat in the classrooms.

“This is a good programme and we hope that it can be implemented properly.

“We already practice having the pupils clean up after themselves, ” said Noridah, referring to the ministry’s plans to have the school children clean their utensils.

The pupils have to clean the tables as well, she added.

“This has instilled not only discipline but also civic consciousness in them, ” she said.

SK Pauh Jaya, Penang, headmaster Ramlee Abu Bakar said the collaboration between the Health and Education Ministries is important so that the meals provided meets a child’s nutritional needs.

He added that his school provides packed, nutritious meals to its pupils valued around RM3 every day to those who want it.

Parents pay for these meals directly to the canteen operator monthly, he added.

More than 300 pupils receive these meals daily, he said, adding that the primary school has an enrolment of 1,300 pupils.

He also said the food menu, which includes a drink, is determined after consultation with the Penang state health department and district health office.

Ramlee said the menu rotates among 10 food items which include rice, fruits and vegetables.

As for drinks, he said the school serves fresh fruit juices and that sugary drinks such as cordial syrups are not allowed.

“We have strict control on the food served, ” he pointed out.

This is to ensure that pupils receive adequate nutrition so that they can “function well” throughout the school day.

What’s on the menu

The menu and budget for the PSP for primary school children are still being discussed, said Maszlee.

This is to ensure that pupils will get a nutritious breakfast of the best quality.

“The programme aims to provide nutritious food based on caloric value and balanced nutrition to ensure pupils practise a healthy lifestyle, which will stimulate their growth process.

“The menu will be determined after discussions with the Health Ministry, nutritionists and the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, ” he said.

In a posting on Instagram Story on Tuesday, he explained that the plan was to serve the meals for about half an hour.

Meal times will be between 7am and 8.30am for the morning session, and noon and 4pm for the afternoon session, he added.

“A special committee will be formed to discuss in detail the provisions that will be used for the PSP, ” he said.

Maszlee has said the programme is inspired by what Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad saw in Japan.

The country’s pupils received nutritional food and learned civic consciousness via the programme there.

Many have joined the effort to improve meals at schools globally, which are generally deemed to be lacking in nutrition.

Among them is celebrity chef Jamie Oliver who has been actively trying to change eating habits in schools in Britain since 2005 with his television show Jamie’s School Dinners.

The programme revealed the poor standards of school food in the UK.

The Jamie Oliver Foundation, in its research years later, found that many schools served food high in fat and sugar during break and lunch times despite the campaign.

Some of the food included pizza, doughnuts, muffins and cookies.

It was reported that Oliver admitted his school dinner campaign was not a success as he felt that eating well was still viewed as an “indulgence of the middle classes” in the Britain.

Former US first lady Michelle Obama had pushed for healthier school meals as part of her agenda to tackle obesity. During the Obama administration, the US Congress passed laws requiring school lunches to be more nutritious.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, passed by the Congress in 2010, required schools to only provide grain products that contained at least 50% whole grains and reduce sodium, full-fat milk and meat from meals.

Snacks with low nutritional value were to be swapped for fruit cups and granola bars.

The United States’ Department of Agriculture also published new regulations to enforce the law.

However, that initiative failed as Donald Trump’s administration reversed those guidelines last year.

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70 per cent of refugee kids do not go to school

Monday, August 5th, 2019
Rohingya children playing at the Knowledge Garden Learning Centre in Serdang. Refugee communities run their own community-based learning centres. FILE PIC

LAST month, we conducted an elective project at selected refugee schools in the Klang Valley.

The schools we visited were run mainly by the Rohingya and Chin communities. As expected, the schools were severely underfunded, understaffed and in deplorable condition.

There are about 175,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia. The exact number is unknown as the unregistered ones are said to be of equal or perhaps bigger number.

Children comprise about 25 per cent of this population, or 48,000.

Of the schoolgoing age group, only 30 per cent are reported to be enrolled in schools. Nobody knows for sure what happened to the remaining 70 per cent.

In Malaysia, refugee children are not allowed to enrol in public schools. As such, refugee communities run their own community-based learning centres. These learning centres have no sustainable funds.

Employing permanent teachers is difficult and reliance on volunteers means a high turnover rate. Many of these schools depend on public donations to meet rental and utility costs.

Worst of all, children often come to school hungry.

The plight of refugees in Malaysia is no secret. We know that they live in dire poverty,
they have almost no access to formal education and affordable healthcare, they are socially marginalised, it is illegal for them to work and they live in constant fear.

But what we do not know, or perhaps are not willing to do, is to treat them as we would like to be treated.

While it might be true that there is a lack of research on refugees in the Malaysian context that can assist policymakers in designing effective intervention programmes, what we need is not so much of “scientific evidence” but a living conscience and strong political will.

From the mini-survey we conducted, one in three Rohingya and Chin adolescents in school had depression of varying degrees. Girls on average were more distressed than boys. This is not surprising. With all the social exclusion, discrimination and restrictions, do we expect them to be happy and content?

Most students we spoke to expressed hopelessness about their future and “where to go” once they finished school.

Tertiary education does not seem to be an option and working can potentially land them in jail.

Malaysia loses nothing by granting these children access to education.

Many of them are likely to stay as the prospect of resettlement is getting more difficult each year and they will be a huge asset to Malaysia.

In fact, a large number of the children were born and brought up here, are able to speak Bahasa Malaysia fluently and have little familiarity with their home country.

By providing education and affordable healthcare, we do not only save this generation but also prevent the young from falling into a life of crime.

By Raudah Mohd YunusNur Aisyah ZainordinNur Saniah ShamsuddinNur Athira ZailanaNur Sabila Syazwani Hariyono.

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Health Ministry: Ban ‘ghost smoke’ candy even if it is not harmful.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry did not find any forbidden ingredients in the controversial “ghost smoke” candy but product seizures were made because it violated labelling requirements.

“There were no forbidden ingredients but the product was seized because the content did not match what was on the label,” said Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.

He said that the candy had been analysed by his ministry and added that all of its ingredients were permitted for consumption.

However, he did not elaborate on its ingredients.

Dr Lee also said that the details of the importer and manufacturer were unclear and added that the Ministry remains firm in its decision to ban the product as it mimics smoking and could encourage children to take up the habit.

On Tuesday (July 23), Dr Lee revealed that the ministry had formed a task force to scrutinise the ingredients of the candy.

By Jo Timbuong
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