Late lunches not healthy for schoolkids

My daughter's primary school made a big change in timetable at the start of this school year, which raised some concerns.

Typically, pupils would have a quick breakfast at home at around 6am, then head to school. Their recess times are 10am, 10.30am or 11am. Those whose recess is at 11am must be famished by then.

To counter the problem of hunger pangs preventing pupils from concentrating during lessons, the school allocates 10 minutes for pupils to have a "quick bite" in class at 9am and 1pm.

But some teachers who are strapped for time do not allow the break, and there are also rules on what can be consumed in the classroom.

Pupils are dismissed at around 2pm but most do not have their lunch then. They would still have to travel home.

For my daughter, the feeder bus journey takes a good 30 minutes, and it can be 3pm before she gets home and has her lunch. I am sure pupils who live farther eat later.

When asked about this issue, the school administration said that other schools are doing the same, and advised children to have a heavy breakfast before coming to school.

This answer is not satisfactory, as schools need not follow what others are doing but should consider what is beneficial for pupils.

As for having a heavy breakfast, most children are unable to eat at 6am, and working parents struggle to find time to put together a good meal.

Having lunch at such a late time cannot be healthy for pupils.

Our education system has evolved, and developments like holistic learning and having healthy meals in the canteen have been implemented.

Perhaps the Education Ministry can consider starting school at 9am and ending at around 3pm.

This would allow families to have breakfast together before heading to work and school, and pupils can have lunch in school at a proper time.

Irene Louis (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'Late lunches not healthy for schoolkids'. Print Edition | Subscribe