Earlier this month, a father took to Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching’s Facebook page to share a heartfelt plead about his son’s short recess time.
Benny Teh wrote that his 7-year-old one son only has 5 minutes to eat during the 20 minutes recess time as the students need to take five minutes to the toilet, five minutes to walk to the canteen and another five minutes to queue to purchase food. Teh said many children eat very slowly, adding that eating fast would invite the risk of choking and obesity as the nutrients do not have enough time to be broken down.
“(The children) need to quickly run back to the classroom is also another risk.
“It is like that every day for the children. And I believe a lot of parents feel the same way. It is painful as parents to see our children like that.
“We hope the Education Ministry can increase the recess time to at least 30 minutes,” wrote Teh, which the post had gathered a sizeable people nodding in agreement.
Since the open-letter, the deputy minister responded to the issue and stated that the schools have the autonomy to increase recess time from 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
“Schools do not need to apply for permission from any agency. The ministry allows the schools to determine the time as the situation is different for each school,” said Teo after visiting SJK (C) Subang following the complaints from parents.
The Star reported that some students required to eat while standing, while some needed to gobble up like a wolf to fill their stomach at the brief rest time.
Kini TV conducted a street interview at a school to ask parents and students to comment on the issue. Many parents were aware that the recess time is 20 minutes and wished the schools could prolong it into 30 minutes.
“My grandchild loves to take his own sweet time. He is like that at home.
“That is why sometimes he does not have enough time to finish the food,” said a 70-year-old grandmother.
A 35-year-old mother said, “when the students rush to the canteen to buy food, it will be very crowded.
“Add up the time of queuing and eating, it is generally not enough.
“My daughter just attended Year One and she is afraid of buying a difficult meal, such as mee hoon soup.
“By the time she queues up and takes the tray to the table, the time is up. Thus, she only buys simple food such as biscuits for the break.”
Oh! That is so sad. Every child should have enough time to eat their mee hoon soup 💔.
Sin Chew Daily also quoted some concerned parents regarding the issue. Some pointed out that 20 minutes recess time would be fine if the school is small.
“For a school that typically has about 1,000 students, a 20-minute break is enough, because it usually takes up to 5 minutes to queue up for food, and another 15 minutes is enough to eat.
“Some students not only finish their meal in 20 minutes but also take the time to do their own things such as reading and chatting with friends, reviewing homework and so on,” said a parent.
The parent said a short recess time could be good for the children as it could train them how to manage time.
“In fact, rest time is also an opportunity to cultivate students on how to allocate time in accordance to importance. As long as they develop good habits and know how to make good use of time, I believe that their 20-minute rest time is sufficient.
“Of course, for some large schools with about 2,000 people, the 20-minute break may be a bit short. Such schools should make appropriate adjustment.”
Some parents also complained that the teachers may sometimes hold up the students’ time when it is recess and cause them not having ample time to eat.
You can watch Kini TV full interview on the next page.
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