Thursday, December 11, 2008

Earlier morning classes

(Letter to Jakarta Post. Published on 11 December, 2008)

Page four of The Jakarta Post's Nov. 28 edition was very interesting reading, especially for anyone who likes to connect dots. At the top of the page was an article titled, "City proceeds with plan to change school time".

This article explained that the city was planning to ignore protests and criticisms of their plan to force small children to go to school earlier in the morning. They considered that making children start school at 6.30 a.m. instead of 7.00 a.m. will help solve the traffic problems in Jakarta. (As if the traffic congestion was their fault!)

Below that was another article titled, "Many kids in city too short for age". This article said that 20 percent of students in one school that was studied were malnourished. Especially interesting was this: "The lack of emphasis on eating a healthy breakfast every day is one reason for malnutrition. Ali said that kids today prefer to have a snack at school instead of eating a proper breakfast."

It occurs to me that perhaps one of the reasons why many kids might not be eating a proper breakfast at home with their parents is lack of time in the morning. With an ordinary household having between 2 and 6 children, time is in short supply in the mornings, especially with everyone, including parents, trying to use the bathroom and get ready to leave the house. And, as every parent knows, getting children to eat in a hurry is never easy.

So, the brilliant plan of Governor Fauzi Bowo is to give parents and their children even less time to get ready in the mornings? With 20 percent of students in Jakarta already malnourished, possibly due to their lack of time to eat a decent breakfast, I wonder what percentage of half-starved children the governor would consider a problem before he started looking for more intelligent solutions.

Thirty percent? Fifty percent? The previous governor Sutiyoso has already presented us with a rate of 20 percent malnourishment among the city's children after his ten years in power. Congratulations.

I wonder what percentage of malnourished children Governor Fauzi Bowo is hoping to create for the city before he leaves office?



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