Press Release
June 27, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara reminded the government, schools and families to prioritize proper nutrition of young pupils, thousands of whom returned to school this June.

"Our educational system is already beset with so many problems. We lack funds, facilities and skilled teachers. But we cannot afford to neglect one fundamental cause of the dwindling quality of education: malnutrition among schoolchildren," said Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.

According to a 2008 study conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), one of every four children is undernourished. The proportion has been increasing over the years.

An evaluation of the Infant Health Development Program (IHDP), which provided pre-primary education and healthcare support to poor, malnourished toddlers, shows that children exposed to the program longer had higher I.Q. than those who had shorter exposure to it. Likewise, children who are properly nourished develop better cognitively and thus perform better in school.

"We cannot ignore the obvious link between nutrition and education," said Angara. "Behavioral science tells us there is no single most important period in a person's life than childhood. We must ensure continuity in ensuring the holistic development of children within these years so that they can become healthy and productive adults. This is an investment that the country needs to keep making."

Angara authored the Children's Health Insurance Program Bill, or CHIP, which is a healthcare system specifically designed for children. This aims to minimize illness and malnutrition, which prevent scores of children from going to and performing well in school.

Early this year, Angara also launched the "Oh My Gulay!" advocacy campaign which aims to combat hidden hunger or malnutrition among Filipino schoolchildren by encouraging them to eat more vegetables.

The next phase of the campaign involves the planting of vegetable gardens in various schools nationwide.

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