KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 ― Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek advised school canteen operators to continue operating throughout the month of Ramadan even if the school has less than 10 per cent non-Muslim students.

She said this is because not all Muslim children are required to fast especially, at an early age, in addition to respecting non-Muslims during Ramadan.

“This is the MADANI government, an inclusive government, where both sides respect each other, those who fast must be polite to those who are not fasting, and those who are not fasting must learn to respect those who are fasting.


“So we don't want a scenario where students eat at the (school) store or by the side of drains, I don't want that kind of situation.

“(Even if less than 10 per cent of students are non-Muslims) Canteens need to continue to be open, and they (operators) need to discuss with the school, because I'm sure there are Muslim children who do not fast at an early age and there is no obligation for them to fast unless they want to because they want to learn to fast,” she told reporters after attending the handover ceremony of Yayasan Petronas' 2023 Back to School Packs at Sekolah Pendidikan Khas Jalan Batu (L) here today.

Fadhlina said this when asked about the recommendation of Persatuan Pengusaha Kantin Sekolah Malaysia (PPKSM) not to open school canteens during the month of Ramadan if the schools have less than 10 per cent non-Muslim students.


Media reports yesterday had quoted PPKSM secretary-general Siti Normah Md Desa as saying that the Ministry of Education (MoE) should leave the decision whether to open school canteens based on the considerations of school administrations and canteen operators according to the needs of students.

She said that if the school canteens remain open, the operators have to bear the operating costs which cannot be covered by the sales value obtained.

Meanwhile, Fadhlina said her ministry welcomes the views of the Down Syndrome Community Rehabilitation Organisation (PPDKSD) in improving the learning syllabus for children with Down Syndrome to prepare them for the workforce.

“We have engagement sessions from time to time to ensure that the curriculum meets the needs of Down Syndrome children, in addition to taking into account the progress cycle.

“We have expertise in MoE for changing the curriculum and the engagement sessions will continue and take into account the inputs from all (parties),” she said.

According to media reports yesterday, PPDKSD chairman Hanizan Hussin had suggested that specific measures should be taken including on training and skills to prepare the group for the world of work.

At today's event, 30 students with disabilities were the first recipients of the 'Back to School' packs donated by Yayasan Petronas containing vouchers for a set of school uniform, shoes, socks and sports attire, in addition to equipment kits such as school bags, stationery sets, colour pencils and scientific calculators.

Yayasan Petronas Chief Executive Officer, Shariah Nelly Francis said a total of 21,000 primary and secondary school students nationwide will receive the packs from mid-March to May.

“Since its launch 10 years ago, Yayasan Petronas through this programme continues to be committed to its goal of alleviating the burden of low-income people and is concerned about their situation in providing school necessities for children.

“In helping less fortunate families to overcome the hurdles they face, we hope that more students will adapt to return to school again and continue to stay in school until they finish learning,” she said. ― Bernama