Abdoulai G. Dibba
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in implementing the technical assistance under FASDEP, has concluded a four day Training of Trainers (TOT) course for 30 teachers, including cluster monitors on nutritional education for Lower Basic Schools.
The training which ended on Saturday was held in Bansang, Central River Region.
Speaking at the closing ceremony on behalf of the FAO Country Rep, Yankuba Sawo, FASDEP nutrition expert, indicated that the training is the second round of teachers training on nutrition education.
Sawo noted that FAO attaches great importance to food security and nutrition as it is an important strategic objective of the organization. He said FAO ensures that the projects under its purview addressed the priority areas agreed with the government of the Gambia.
Sawo pointed out that the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Project (FASDEP) is one of those projects and is a technical assistance project to the main FASDEP investment, providing capacity building for nutrition education.
He stated that FASDEP is funded by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) in May 2012 and that it seeks to reduce rural household poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition through increased agricultural production, productivity, commercialization, nutrition education and resilience building.
The nutrition expert noted that the project has two main components: the Investment Component and the Technical Assistance (TA) Component, with two Supervising Entities: ADB for the Investment Component and FAO for the Technical Assistance Component and that the project covers three administrative regions namely West Coast Region (WCR), Lower River Region (LRR), and Central River Region (South and North).
Mr Sawo asserted that component two of the project which is on Strengthening Capacity in nutritional practices and resilience, is being implemented in partnership with the National Nutrition Agency.
“Good nutrition and education are critical for the development of children and their future livelihoods and FAO recognises the vital contribution that schools can make in the country’s efforts to achieve food security and building a healthy society” Sawo stated.
He described children as the current and future consumers and thus need relevant education to form lifelong healthy eating habits. According to him, eating habits are learned early and schools can play an important role in promoting healthy and sustainable dietary patterns by engaging parents, teachers, food service and food vendors.
He noted that the TA support through NaNA is providing a step-by-step guidance on how to develop a comprehensive nutrition education materials based on the premise that diet and health are above all a way of life, learned in all the contexts of a child’s life.
“Therefore to have an impact on children’s lives, nutrition education must follow the “whole school” approach and tackle the classroom, the school environment, and the family and community” stated Sawo.
He said it is hoped that if this programme is effectively implemented, the “whole school” approach to promoting lifelong healthy eating habits will amongst others potentially:
- Equip children with nutrition knowledge and skills on how to produce, prepare, store, and eat a nutritious diet.
- Enhance household nutrition, contributing to the reduction of micronutrient malnutrition and chronic disease.
- Raise demand for micronutrient-rich horticultural produce, creating opportunities for farmers to increase and diversify fruit and vegetable production for better incomes and rural livelihoods.
“The past four days have been interactive and extensive discussion on contents of the materials developed for pupils in lower basic schools and I believe this gave you the opportunity to be quite familiar with the content and materials and how to effectively deliver the topics in class for children to learn and I have no doubt that the four days training has given you basic knowledge in nutrition” he stated.
“Also the pedagogical skills demonstrated during the training will help you all to deliver the nutrition education effectively and I therefore urge you all to share your knowledge and experience with your colleagues who have not attended this training so that the nutrition knowledge will filter down to the children in your various schools” he concluded.
Malick Jammeh, a cluster monitor in Janjangbureh, said the training would reflect their minds on the school feeding programme, which is directly looking at the activity of the community with regard to participation, support of the feeding programme in the form of participation in the gardens, school farms, among others.
He said the training course was in line with the policy objectives, and urged the organizers to continue organizing such trainings for teachers.
All the speakers who spoke shared the same view and expressed the need to have such training courses.