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27 September 2010

Nutrition education sidelined in schools

Nutrition education in schools should not be sidelined, as poorly nourished children will struggle to reach their academic potential, the Association for Dietetics in SA has said.

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The Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) has responded to the call for submissions from stakeholder bodies and members of the public on the National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) for all subjects listed in the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12, published in the September 2010 edition of the Government Gazette.

This follows the realisation that time allocated to nutrition in the CAPS is minimal, and in some grades not even included; and that content is targeted to improving knowledge, not action for improved nutrition.

ADSA President Rene Smalberger commented: "It is ironical that the Department of Education is under pressure to improve the schooling outcomes of learners, but reaching this target is hindered if education on improved nutrition is not promoted more widely.

"Children who are born to poorly nourished adolescent mothers, and who are then poorly nourished in their formative years will not reach their academic potential. The economic development of the country will be undermined when many members of the population do not have an educational foundation that enables them to contribute meaningfully to the economy."

"Education on how to help individuals, families and communities improve their nutritional practices should be undertaken by everyone who can contribute. It is thus especially distressing that the Department of Education has sidelined accurate nutrition communication to the extent that is suggested in the CAPS," added Smalberger.

ADSA has suggested that the Department of Education should:

  • increase the time allocated to nutrition education, throughout the all grades
  • improve content, such that information contributes to improved nutritional practices rather than nutrient based knowledge
  • refer teachers and learners to resources with accurate nutrition information that is relevant to our population.

ADSA has offered assistance to the Department should they wish to implement these suggestions.

- (Carol Browne, ADSA press release)

- (Health24, September 2010)

 
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