A primary school teacher in Terengganu shared a heartbreaking story of a student who was coming to school, even when she did not have to, just for something to eat
In a post on community Facebook page Cikgu Share, the teacher recounted how she noticed a student attending classes even though she was not scheduled to do so.
Under the National Recovery Program (NRP), primary school students are split into two groups to take turns attending physical classes or online classes every week as a COVID-19 precaution.
However, in this case, the teacher said the student turned up at school even though she had already come in for physical classes the week before.
"I assumed she didn't know about the rotation, so I explained to her that she came for physical classes last week, so this week she didn't have to come. Study at home (this week), and come back next week, I told her. She nodded her head in understanding," wrote the teacher.
But the next day, the student came to school again
"I asked her why did she come to school after I told her not to come in this week, but she only bowed her head down and kept quiet," the teacher said.
The day after that, puzzlingly, the teacher saw the student at school again.
"When she turned up for the third time, I felt that it was strange. It was not like she did not understand after I explained to her multiple times," the teacher said.
"Even her friends have told her that she did not have to come to school this week."
The teacher soon, sadly, discovered why the student kept coming to school
The schoolteacher said she was assigned for break time duty the following week and saw the student eating at the canteen.
"I saw that she was a Supplementary Food Programme (RMT) recipient," the teacher said, adding, "I watched her eat the rice with chicken curry eagerly, as if she was very hungry."
At that moment, it dawned on her that the student was possibly coming to school every week just to claim the free meals
The teacher said after that day, she stopped questioning the student and hoped she could keep receiving the free food.
In a reply in the comments, she added that many of her other students' parents lost their jobs during the Movement Control Order (MCO) and her fellow teachers in the school have also given the students further help.
The Facebook post has since gone viral, garnering close to 20,000 reactions and 5,000 shares as many netizens expressed sympathy for the student
"What do you think she ate during the MCO?" wondered a concerned Facebook user.
Another user said, "This reminds me of the time when I was little, I was lazy to go to school. But my mum asked me to go because RMT at school was delicious. At home, my mum couldn't afford to feed me. I remember this so well."
Meanwhile, others also pointed out that the free breakfast programme, another free meal initiative for primary school students that was recently discontinued by the Ministry of Education (MOE), will benefit many students like this one.
"The free breakfast programme that was suggested by Dr Maszlee Malik (the previous education minister) ought to be given more consideration by the MOE," said a netizen.
After a long hiatus from physical classes, students have started going back to school in October with COVID-19 precautions in place: