Nutrition and access to primary education
Title: Nutrition and access to primary education (NAPE)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Department of School Health and Nutrition of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST)
Overall term: 2016 to 2019
While Malawi provides free primary education, and enrolment is relatively high, the rates of repetition and drop-out are also excessive. Schools are overcrowded, with an average of 126 children per classroom, and hunger and malnutrition in the country have a detrimental effect on school attendance and pupils’ performance. The Department of School Health and Nutrition at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) is responsible for implementing the country’s National School Health and Nutrition Strategic Plan by 2018. This emphasises the provision of school meals for all pupils, with local communities participating in the production, delivery and preparation of school meals.
Good quality school meals are available for children at selected primary schools. Pupils’ school attendance rate and participation in lessons have improved.
The project is a continuation of an earlier measure introduced by GIZ in 2012 on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to promote home-grown school meals. The success of that project encouraged the Government of Malawi to launch its own Home-Grown School Meal (HGSM) initiative. In support of this, GIZ is now implementing the second Nutrition and Access to Primary Education project, which involves activities with a range of stakeholders at different levels and across different sectors. These activities fall within three main areas:
- Increasing the availability of high-quality food in schools and communities. In a community-based approach, local leaders allocate fields to schools, on which they can grow their own crops. Community members then assume responsibilities for cultivation and harvesting, and for cooking meals. The project supports the construction of storerooms and kitchens to facilitate the provision of healthy school meals, and it provides a selection of maize and legumes for both consumption and planting. These varied ingredients ensure that the children receive an adequate and balanced diet through their school meals.
The project teaches the community members how to prepare food for variety and health, and it promotes a productive school environment, with orchards and vegetable gardens. By insisting on gender balance in the cooking committees, the project ensures that women do not bear the brunt of the work. At the same time, it promotes the use of energy efficient stoves and the planting of wood lots to produce firewood more sustainably. Every-day support for schools and communities is available through school health clubs run by non-governmental organisations on behalf of the project.
- Nutrition education. The project conducts awareness-raising measures for schools and communities to enhance their knowledge of nutrition and hygiene, and to reinforce the improvements to their diets. Working with the Malawian Government, the project has developed educational materials, such as a wall calendar, a handbook explaining six key school nutrition messages, and various nutrition-related games. An interactive weekly radio project launched by the previous project proved highly successful, and is now being broadcast nationwide. This promotes healthy nutrition and the home-grown approach to school meals, messages which are multiplied by popular ‘radio listener clubs’. In addition, the project engages community radio stations to produce short broadcasts on significant emerging issues, as proposed by the school meals committees. The NGO Story Workshop is also incorporating key messages in its traditional songs, dances and plays.
- Management of school nutrition: capacity building for government service providers, NGOs, schools and communities. Among the most important institutions for school nutrition at the district level are the District Nutrition Coordination Committees. Each committee includes a district school health and nutrition coordinator – an important position that was only recently established. The project is working to strengthen this role by improving the relevant planning and budget processes, and by providing the coordinators with appropriate training and opportunities to exchange experiences with their peers in other districts. Meanwhile, at the national level, the project also advises the School Health and Nutrition Department about the use of community-based approaches for its Home Grown School Meals Project.