Attendance in Sarangani public schools rise with free rice
ALABEL, Sarangani (8 October) -- Attendance in public elementary schools improved when the daily ration of one kilo iron-fortified rice per pupil started in September, education officials reported.
Emilia Regua, Food-for-School Program (FSP) provincial coordinator, said majority of the 211 schools province-wide have posted an increase.
The rice allocation was winning the interest of pupils as it "minimizes absences," according to Romeo Saya-ang, Glan district supervisor.
Saya-ang disclosed the food program has pulled up attendance records in his district to a hundred percent since its launching.
"They are not only attending classes regularly but they also come to school early," he added.
Erlinda Andujar, mother of a Grade IV pupil, said her son now has become "much eager" to go to school, especially that he comes home with a rice pack.
Parents in Andujar's neighborhood were encouraging their kids not to be absent from classes because one kilo of rice can already feed the whole family.
Milagrina Caballero expressed her delight that her Grade V daughter is a beneficiary of FSP.
Every packed-rice her daughter brought home in the afternoon was enough for their family of five the next day.
FSP is part of the Arroyo administration's flagship Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program aimed at improving school attendance of children while mitigating hunger among young learners and families thru food subsidy provided that the child goes to school everyday.
In Sarangani province, some 88,855 children benefit from this food intervention undertaking.
Deborah Adrales, Sarangani schools division superintendent, pointed out the implementation of FSP covers all public elementary schools from Grade I to Grade VI.
DepEd-supervised pre-schools within the seven municipalities were included since the province belongs to the "priority one" provinces.
The implementation originally covered 120 school days but what was approved presently was good for 19 days feeding period only, Adrales stressed.
Based on the approved feeding allocation, National Food Authority provincial manager Geronimo Palomo said only 27,563 bags are provided.
This, he said, would cost around P27.5 million at P20 per kilo of iron-fortified rice.
Palomo explained NFA's role was "only to supply" what has been approved. However, he was anticipating for the central office to notify him of the next approved allocation based on the planned 120 school days feeding period.
Education officials said the daily ration of rice was not only anchored on addressing poverty but would improve health and nutrition of school children as well.
DepEd records show that from 65,588 grade school children weighed in this school year, 25 percent were malnourished.
Public schools were now implementing the "gulayan sa paaralan" in partnership with the Department of Agriculture to help improve the health condition of these children. (PIO Sarangani/BCP/PIA SarGen) [top]