Researchers Push Integration of Nutrition Education in the Curriculum

Experts in food and nutrition are pushing for the integration of nutrition education in routine teaching as one of the ways of guaranteeing food and nutrition security among school going children. 

Speaking at a meeting attended by researchers and policy makers on Friday, Dr. Margaret Kabahenda, a lecturer in the Department of Food Technology and Nutrition at Makerere University noted that while government has put a lot of effort in curbing malnutrition among babies, those gains are undone soon after children start school. 

She says in Africa, only 20% of school going children are accessing meals at schools and yet in countries like Uganda there is still ping-pong on whose responsibility the child’s nutrition while at school is, between parents and the school administration. 

Kabahenda says they conducted a study in which they assessed the feasibility of integrating nutrition in the school curriculum and found that it works to improve nutrition security considering that one teacher accesses hundreds of children each year.  

The researchers said they have now developed educational materials together with the National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC) and are piloting the programme in schools located in five districts of Kassanda, Ntoroko, Mpigi, Kyenjojo and Kamwenge.

For Kabahenda, the country already has enough good feeding policies but what needs to change is addressing the awareness and cultural diversity associated with food in Uganda.

Her view is shared by Lawrence Bategeka, a macro-economist who delivered the key note address and said the issue of food and nutrition security needs urgent attention especially now when even the rural communities have resorted to buying food due to commercialization of agriculture.

He says food markets in the rural areas are either lacking or intermittent and are generally not solving the problem which would be solved if free markets are supported, as they are the only sure way of emancipating productive people from poverty.

But, for Prof. Julius Kizza a lecturer in the department of Political science at Makerere University, even the food laws that nutrition experts are seeing to be good only look attractive on paper as not much is being implemented.

He says already there’s tension between science and politics in the country citing the bill prohibiting Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as people are being misled into thinking that all GMO seed is bad, yet some are vegetative and not injurious to farming.

As an urgent concern, Kizza urges authorities to strengthen surveillance of agro-chemicals on the market as he claims most of what is supplied is of poor quality. 

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