Nestlé will spend Sh10million to roll out its nutrition education and physical activities programme for Primary Schools in Nyeri, Murang’a and Meru Counties in 2017 as the company intensifies its effort to help Kenya address nutrition issues among school going children, aged 6 to 12 years.
Nestlé said the money will go into training teachers, parents, and providing essential education materials, including interactive posters and teaching manuals. These materials will help the teachers involve the children in interactive lessons about healthy eating, physical exercise, hygiene and sanitation. Part of the money will also be spent in supplying the schools with vegetable seeds and seedlings plus employing an agronomists to help them maintain school kitchen gardens.
The announcement was made during a training session that brought together over 180 teachers drawn from 60 primary schools in Meru. The Meru training was the third one in two weeks, after similar trainings were conducted in Nyeri and Murang’a for a combined number of 370 teachers drawn from 125 schools in the two counties. This now brings the total number of teachers involved in teaching in the programme to over 1800 countrywide.
“These teachers are expected to effect further peer to peer their respective staffrooms to triple the number of teachers trained teachers by the end of 2017,” said Aaron Fenu, the Public Affairs Manager at Nestlé Equatorial African Region.
After the trainings, the teachers are issued with pupil training materials that will focus on nutrition education and physical activities. Intense follow up is conducted by Healthy Kids Programme field co-ordinators, who make sure that the teachers are able to utilize the materials and also train other colleagues to ensure sustainability of the programme.
“Although nutrition education, hydration and physical activities training has been the key aspect to the programme, we developed ways of assisting schools utilize their pieces of land for kitchen gardens or help them create farming spaces through use of gunny bags, all to ensure that the children’s diet is richly supplemented,” said Mr. Fenu.
In Kenya, the Healthy Kids Programme is currently focusing on schools covered by the 12 Farmers’ Cooperative Society that works with Nestlé Kenya in the Nescafé Plan with plans to roll it out countrywide in the coming years.
“Malnutrition, in every form, presents significant threats to human health. Today, the world faces a double burden of malnutrition that includes both undernutrition and overweight, especially in developing countries. To tackle the issue of malnutrition, Nestlé launched the Healthy Kids Programme globally in 2009 with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of good nutrition and an active lifestyle among school-age children,” said Mr. Fenu.
The Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme forms an integral part of the company’s nutrition commitment to help children develop positive habits that will last a lifetime. Implemented in partnership with Ministries of Education, Health, relevant NGOs and bodies globally, the programme raises awareness about the importance of eating balanced meals, regular physical activity and good hygiene practices and has steadily progressed in the Equatorial Africa Region reaching over 760,000 children.
In Kenya, the programme has reached over 420,000 children. The launch in Meru, Nyeri and Murang’a is part of a scale-up plan to extend the programme to more counties this year to reach an additional 52,000 beneficiaries from 150 schools.
“The programme is aligned to the Kenya school curriculum and is a supplement to lessons taught in Social Science classes. We have already implemented the programme in Nairobi, Kiambu, Embu, Kirinyaga and Kakamega adding the total number of counties reached to eight,” Mr. Fenu said.
The programme is based on research conducted on nutrition and physical activity among children at the lower primary school level. The survey found out that an early inclusion of healthy nutrition teaching programmes into the primary school curriculum through levels of formal and informal education can improve knowledge and bring behavioural changes associated with eating habits.
Currently, feedback from teachers shows that the schools where the programme has been implemented, have since 2012, recorded an enhanced awareness of the importance of good nutrition.
Nestlé aims to support 50 million children and families through our nutrition education and behaviour change programmes by 2020.