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MANILA — Education Secretary Leonor Briones has given regional directors and school division officials the power to sanction school heads violating rules on the management of funds to implement this year’s school-based feeding program (SBFP).

The SBFP aims to provide supplemental feeding to roughly two million malnourished students.

In an order, Briones also authorized regional directors to decide whether to release the funds to school division offices (SDOs) currently implementing the SBFP or those with unliquidated funds and to determine the amount to be released to the SDOs depending on their utilization of the budget.

“Similarly, the SDOs shall have the prerogative to decide whether or not to release the funds to schools with ongoing implementation and/or unliquidated funds for school year 2015-2016,” stated Briones.

Briones said these provisions were added to the existing guidelines “to ensure an efficient and effective implementation of the SBFP for school year 2016-2017.”

Another provision introduced to the guidelines states that the hiring of a cook shall be one per 40 beneficiaries subject to the availability of funds.

For this year, the Department of Education has earmarked over P4.1 billion for the nationwide roll-out of the SBFP, providing P2,160 for the feeding and operational costs of each beneficiary for a period of 120 days or P18 a day for each beneficiary.

This year’s SBFP aims to nourish and inculcate positive health values and habits on 533,425 severely wasted and 1.39 million wasted kindergarten to Grade 6 students in all public schools nationwide. It also aims to increase school attendance by 85 percent.

The World Health Organization has described wasting as low weight-for-height, which is often linked with acute starvation or severe disease.

The DepEd has noted that the Southern Tagalog region, which includes the provinces of Cavite, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon and Laguna, has registered the highest number of severely wasted and wasted public school students at more than 352,000, followed by Western Visayas with over 193,000 and Central Luzon with over 169,000.

Metro Manila has 48,742 severely wasted and 105,678 wasted school children.  SFM

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