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PIA Press Release

DepEd expands nutrition program for schoolchildren

Manila (22 January) -- The Department of Education (DepEd) has expanded the coverage of its schoolfeeding program meant at improving the attendance and performance of public schoolchildren.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said student beneficiaries of the program rose by 300 percent in 2007 compared to previous year.

Having covered only preschool and grade 1 pupils in 2006, this program now benefits all pupils from preschool to grade 6 included in the priority provinces. The number of beneficiaries rose from 676,740 preschool and grade 1 pupils in 2006 to 2.7 million preschool and grades one to six pupils in 2007.

To supplement the distribution of fortified rice, milk, biscuits, and breakfast items to children below the normal nutritional status, pupils and teachers have also availed themselves of a comprehensive medical and dental treatment, with a separate deworming treatment for both pupils and teachers.

As an effect, the percentage of schoolchildren below the normal nutritional status decreased from 20 percent in 2006 to 17 percent last year.

"The department concerns itself not only with the schoolchildren's academic performance, but also with their physical condition and well-being," Lapus said.

"We are cognizant of how their nutrition status directly affects their performance in school," he added.

Consequently, there was an increase in attendance of elementary pupils in priority provinces which was registered at 90 percent in 2006 to 95 percent in 2007.

Lapus said provinces under Priority One include: Camarines Norte and Masbate in Bicol, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga Sibugay, and Lanao del Norte in Northern Mindanao.

Also in the list are Sarangani in SOCCSKSARGEN, Mountain Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Maguindanao in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Norte in CARAGA.

Priority One provinces are those that need hunger mitigation initiatives the most, as identified by the National Economic Development Authority and the National Nutrition Council. (PNA) [top]

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