Nutrition Education in Primary Schools in Argentina

Title: Educación alimentaria y nutricional en las escuelas de educación general básica/primaria
Country: Argentina
Duration: August 2006 to July 2009
Responsible Ministries/institutions/partnerships, including UN: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MECyT); Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Foods, (SAGPyA) of the Ministry of Economy and Production.

Project Summary

Even though nation-wide food availability is sufficient to meet the energy needs of the population, available information on food consumption from the household expenditure survey reveals deficiencies in energy and in micronutrients among the lower-income sectors. In this connection, there is a need for redistribution measures as well as food programmes targeted to the most vulnerable groups, as well as measures designed to prevent overweight and obesity by fostering appropriate dietary habits. This project aims to strengthen the capacities of the education sector to deliver an effective nutrition information and education programme aimed at teachers and children in Primary Schools through a strategy of material-led training and education on nutrition.

Objectives

To contribute to the improvement of school age children's health and nutritional status by incorporating food and nutrition education into the curriculum of Primary Education in Argentina. This project is complementary to the national initiative of the Scientific Alphabetization Project (PIIE) promoted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology at the national level.

Specific objectives

  • To design strategies and actions to integrate food and nutrition education into the curriculum of grades 1-7 of the Primary School curriculum, through the development of an educational model which considers priority nutrition issues affecting children and their families in the country and is coherent with the national health and nutrition policy, and principles of equal access to primary education.
  • To develop, validate and promote the use a set of educational materials for school directors, teachers and pupils with the aim of integrating food and nutrition education into all Primary Schools in Argentina. 
  • To develop and validate a capacity building programme to train school directors and teachers in the use of the nutrition education materials developed by this Project.

Critical problem identified and addressed by the project

  • Nutrition education has not been incorporated systematically in the primary school curriculum in Argentina. 
  • Existing initiatives to teach nutrition in primary schools are sporadic, with limited coverage; also they have not been evaluated. 
  • The main factors limiting the full implementation of nutrition education in schools are: lack of teachers trained in nutrition, lack of appropriate educational materials for teachers and children, and few opportunities for children to practice good nutritional habits.

Expected Project Outcomes

  1. An assessment of the nutritional status and food habits of school students in 8 interventions and 4 control schools from the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Chubut; Misiones and Salta.
  2. An assessment of the kinds of foods available in schools and consumed by children in the 12 schools.
  3. A review of the nutrition education contents in the National Primary School Curriculum and recommendations on the need to include or enhance the education contents on food and nutrition, including the development of new educational materials in this area.
  4. A set of nutrition education materials for Grades 1 to 7 drafted.
  5. A capacity building program to train teachers in the use of the educational materials from 1st to 7th grades of Primary School to be developed.
  6. Trained teachers in the use of the nutrition education materials. These teachers come from the schools collaborating with this project from the Provinces of Buenos Aires, Chubut; Misiones and Salta.
  7. An evaluation of the nutritional status and food habits of pupils from the 8 intervention and 4 control schools. This evaluation is scheduled to take place 3 months after the introduction of the new nutrition educational materials.
  8. A set of validated nutrition education books for teachers and pupils from 1st to 7th grade prepared.
  9. Printed copies of the final version of the nutrition education materials for teachers and students of the schools that have collaborated in project implementation.
  10. A production of a master copy of the final version of the nutrition education books for teachers and students ready for reproduction and printing.
  11. A CD ROM containing the final version of the nutrition education books for teachers and students.
  12. A strategy for follow-up and nationwide implementation of the use of the nutrition education materials in Argentina.
  13. A Terminal Report with a summary of all activities developed during the project, containing an evaluation of the results in order to develop recommendations for follow-up and extension of nutrition education in Primary Schools in Argentina, including lessons learned from this project. This Report will be disseminated to education authorities in all provinces in Argentina to share the project's experiences and lessons.

Current Project Status

The project is in progress and outputs 1 to 6 have been completed. Regarding the preparation of nutrition education materials, a teacher's book has been developed covering Grades 1 to 7 of Primary School. Also a student's book has been developed for each of these levels.
These materials were prepared, reviewed and subsequently reproduced (1st printed version), and used in the training of teachers. They are currently being taught (September to November 2008) in the 8 intervention schools. This phase correspond to the validation of the educational materials with teachers implementing them with their students from grades 1 through 7.

Forthcoming activities

The educational materials will undergo an evaluation at the end of 2008, following their implementation in the intervention schools. A final version will integrate the comments from the validation phase and from the nutrition education experts' revision due to take place in early 2009. A final workshop to present the educational materials and disseminate the evaluation finding is scheduled for July 2009.

Longer term sustainability

For follow-up and sustainability of the project, the Argentinean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology will promote integration of Nutrition Education into the national education system. Integration will include contents and education materials developed as part of the current project.

last updated:  Tuesday, December 18, 2012