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IX Educational programmes

IX Educational programmes

28. The meeting recognized that the education and training of food handlers, vendors and consumers of street foods was a fundamental and most urgent need. The purpose of such programmes was to make them aware of hygienic, sanitary and technological aspects of street food vending and consumption. It is only through such training and subsequent monitoring of the situation that street food vendors could be integrated into, and considered a responsible part of, a city's food supply system. Consumers who are aware of food hygiene and nutritional requirements become discriminating buyers and thereby not only protect themselves and their family but also place pressure on vendors to practice good food handling and preparation practices.

29. The meeting noted that many street food projects and studies carried out in Africa, Asia and Latin America have strong training components. Considerable work has been done in this field and several approaches and strategies have been tried. There has been formal training programmes for groups of vendors. These have included individually oriented sessions, courses for training of trainers, public educational programmes through the mass media, and programmes for special target groups such as school children. Several training modules have been developed on various aspects of educational programmes under these projects.

30. The meeting recommended the strengthening of training activities keeping in view the lessons learned. The aims of training programmes should be clearly identified. Selection of trainees was considered a key element of a successful programme. The design of training modules should meet the specific requirements of each category of trainees, whether food inspectors, vendors or consumers. Pretesting of training modules was considered a desirable practice. The meeting stressed the particular importance of training of trainers. While traditional approaches based on theoretical and practical sessions might still be valid at the inspector's level of training, at vendor levels it was considered necessary to develop more innovative approaches. In general, the training agenda should be focused on the identification of hazards and on control measures to be implemented. Changes in attitudes and practices would need to be followed closely after training and future activities continuously revised on the basis of past experience. The involvement of NGOs in training vendors would in many cases ensure sustainability of such programmes.

31. The meeting stressed that means should be identified for the implementation of extensive training programmes and for ensuring their sustainability at management and funding levels. Collaboration with NGOs and the private sector could contribute in funding such programmes.

32. The meeting also discussed at length the need for consumer education. It recognized that more work was required in this field covering an improved definition of objectives, targets and strategies. The positive role of on-the-spot demonstrations in model street food areas was underlined.

33. The meeting emphasized the key role of food inspectors or public health inspectors belonging to the local body in ensuring the quality and safety of street foods. It was considered essential that such inspectors be trained not only in identification of food hazards and control measures, but also in the technologies of food preparation at street level. This would enable them to pass on their knowledge of ways to improve food handling to vendors. To make this work, they required training skills. Several countries had prepared training modules for inspectors and run successful courses in training of trainers. This experience should be utilized and expanded throughout all the regions. The meeting was of the opinion that this matter deserved priority attention.

34. Considering the special characteristics and linguistic requirements of each region the meeting considered it appropriate that various training programmes and modules might profitably be developed at regional levels and thereafter adapted at national and local levels. There were several other areas covering street food technologies, socio-cultural aspects of street foods and the likes that deserved attention at a regional level. The meeting recommended that consideration be given by FAO to establishing or recognising some of the existing national institutions as "Regional Centres of Excellence for Street Foods". Such centres could collaborate and share experiences on street foods on a TCDC basis. Special consideration should also be given to the development of an electronic information and library exchange network covering street foods, with advice from a group of international experts, as appropriate.

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