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Partnership with the academia in mainstreaming Food and Nutrition Security and the Right to Food

Photo ©FAO/Jaward Keifa

Freetown-Sierra Leone, 23 February, 2016 - Njala University has effective this 2016 academic year commenced the teaching of Food and Nutrition Security and the Right to Food (FNS&RtF) as part of its curriculum to empower its students to cope with recent trends in nutrition and food security issues.

The introduction of the course is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) with funds from the Federal Republic of Germany. 

The initiative is a fulfilment of output 3(three) of the FNS&RtF Project which is mainly to integrate food and nutrition security and the right to food into the university curriculum and financially support the preparation of teaching modules and syllabus.

Njala University was established in 1964 and it is the second largest tertiary institution in Sierra Leone after Fourah Bay College. Since its establishment, it has served as a major centre for training middle level agricultural extension workers and teachers at secondary school level.

Relevance of FNS&RtF in the University curriculum and national development

During the launch of the course on the 22nd February, 2016, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Honourable Marie Jalloh described the course as an answer to the demands expressed by government as well as non-governmental organisations working in the field of Food and Nutrition Security and related programmes.

“ Introducing nutrition courses and the right to food for students reading agriculture and related courses will put the graduates in a better position in contributing towards addressing food and nutrition insecurity in the country” she said.

She reaffirmed government’s commitment in ensuring the sustainability of the course. 

The Chief Technical Adviser for FNS&RtF Project, Dr. Margaret Wagah said that the course will better position the students to understand and apply food and nutrition security into their daily lives and at work place. 

“Exposing the students to nutrition topics enables them to be in a better position to influence farmer decisions on nutrition matters as farmers are hardly equipped with nutrition information” she stated.

The Vice Chancellor of Njala University, Professor Ernest Ndomahina expressed excitement over the support provided by FAO for introducing the course in the university.

Professor Ndomahina acknowledged that the course will empower graduates from the university to impart better nutritional habit into people in the various communities they will be serving in the country.

“In the past, the main emphases were on production system and our traditions and cultures have often restricted and sharpened our appetite for certain staple food ignoring the others” he said.

Consultations and finalisation of the teaching methodologies

The consultations for the introduction of FNS&RtF started in 2013 among FAO, Njala University, key line ministries and partners. In October 2015, FAO trained twenty three academic staff from the schools of Agriculture, Social Sciences, Education and Community Health Sciences in the course area and supplied the university with up-to-date teaching materials. 

The course will be compulsory for students in the School of Agriculture, especially the Institute of Food Technology, Nutrition and Consumer Studies and optional for those in another disciplines.

A twelve-day combined teaching and methodology seminar which aims among other things to spur the interest of first year students for whom FNS & RtF is optional and assess the understanding of the topics and the appropriateness of the methodologies  is being held in the Mokonde & Bo campuses

 

Contact: Jaward.keifa@fao.org, Communication, FAO-Sierra-Leone

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