It is always essential to note that children should be well fed with the correct nutrition since this serves as the basis for educational achievement (Rink, 2010:39). Schools should be guided by various policies, which should ascertain that adequate nutritional care is given to the students. These policies should also ensure that students live with dignity and realize their full potential. The schools’ administrations can therefore work with other stakeholders in creating policies that are friendly in order to provide competent education.
However, the current education system is faced with a number of risks that jeopardizes the learning outcomes of the students. These risks result from lack of nutritional status in their meals. Many schools’ nutritional ranks have thus been put into question by the society. Hence, many governmental bodies as well as other stakeholders are looking forward to implementation of a nutritional policy that protects the welfare of the students. This paper aims at formulating nutritional policy for Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone.
Nutrition is one of the factors that play a critical role in enabling students to sustain proficiency in education curriculum. Poor nutritional ranks in students have proven to weaken the outcome of performance, increase chances of mortality, and prejudice childhood development (Robertson & Robertson, 2007: 436). A student needs a well balance diet that comprises of vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals in order to sustain performance. These nutrients serve the role of reducing the chances of physical and mental deficits, and a general failure to flourish.
Poor students’ nutritional policy is a trend occurring in all parts of the world, but the reasons vary from place to place. For case in point, in Ireland, United States, and UK, unhealthy eating among teenagers and students approaching the puberty stage has become a debatable subject (Martin & Conklin, 1999: 330). Various research studies conducted in these countries show that students entering puberty lack enough knowledge on the importance of taking a balanced diet in relation to academic performance and hence, prefer taking junk foods since they are cheap and easily available (332). However, a number of these teenagers are anxious about the weight that they might need to lose when they become obese, hence skip meals instead of substituting with foods that enhance physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development.
On the other hand, 20% of students from the developing nations lack adequate nutrients that are required for proper transition of childhood to adulthood; hence, they end up living an unhealthy life that in turn affects their education performance. This results from poor economic status in the community among other factors (Nnakwe, 2009: 184). Therefore, poverty remains the major reason behind students’ malnutrition all over the world with the developing world being the biggest victim.
Moreover, malnutrition can result from poor health. For case in point, protein energy malnutrition results from lack of proper intake of nutrients due to having infection of diseases such as malaria or diarrhea. This leads to poor growth and development, which is characterised by underweight and poor cognitive ability, and hence slows down the learning process (Nnakwe, 2009: 185). All these portray that maintaining a healthy status for students necessitates proper intake of a healthy diet throughout their school life. Lack of vitamin A creates an avenue for disease infection since students develop a weak immune system, and poor eye vision. Iron deficiency also lowers the immune system, and thus leads to poor cognitive development that affects educational performance (186).
Nevertheless, poor nutrition in students is not only associated with poor academic performance but it also has long-term effects as well. One of the effects of poor nutrition is high mortality rate that prevails in all the regions that are deprived of food, qualitatively as well as quantitatively. Ilorah (2005) affirms that the major cause of students’ deaths in Nigeria is attributed to lack of nutritional policy as this amount to poor nutrients in the students’ meals.
Over the years, studies have been undertaken to find out whether interventions can improve this situation. One of the studies shows that implementation of a policy is related to quantitative improvement in diet of the students. After implementation, this intervention led to a drastic fall of students’ mortality rates among the students in Zambia (Zambia et al., 2009). This played the role of demonstrating the positive effect that good nourishment alone can have on a society that embraces implementation of a students’ nutritional policy.
Another study conducted in Sweden suggests that simple supplementation of vitamin A or DHA during education curriculum increases resistance to infection as well as enhancing brain development. A group of students was selected and given a drink of Omega 3 fatty acids along with dietary supplements. The results demonstrated how far quality nutrition could affect the performance of the students. The students given food supplements had a better nutritional status that facilitated educational performance (All Natural Healthy Life, 2010).
A study conducted in Zambia, shows that the population of the village suffered from generalized malnutrition but the students seem worst hit due to the environmental conditions. This resulted from the fact that schools are characterized with outbreaks of diseases such as cholera, and dysentery due to lack of clean water in the school vicinity. In addition to this, quite a number of students had worm infections, which in turn affect proper absorption of nutrients in their bodies, hence resulting to poor academic performance (Zambia et al., 2009). This calls for the schools’ attention in order to provide special education that facilitates a change of attitude and behaviors relative to hygiene. This can only be achieved through education forums based on how to disinfect waters from the lakes.
United States, Ireland, and UK among other developed countries currently have a school policy that regulates school meals in order to provide the students with quality food (Waters, 2010: 264). In these countries, foods that have high fat and sugar content are being substituted with foods that have high fiber content as well as foods that enhance resistance to body infection and promote brain development. The main reason behind this is to eliminate obesity as it causes poor physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development of a child. However, the schools’ policies for these countries face challenges since they provide many promises, lack proper regulation in diverse areas of the policy, and lack proper implementation that is in line with the changing economic factors.
Zambia is one of the African countries that bear the burden of poor nutritional status of students in schools. Several plans have been launched in this regard, which include the National Nutrition Policy and the National Plan of Action. These have been limited to paper work and their actual implementations are yet to be seen. In order to tackle the implementation of a policy effectively, the schools’ nutritional programs must be designed in a manner that takes due consideration of the current problems facing a community, the culture present in a certain community, and resources available for the implementation (Zambia et al., 2009).
More over, irresponsible sexual activities among Zambian students have contributed to an increase in HIV prevalence rate. The HIV infection necessitates a special diet, which the communities as well the schools are not able to provide due to economic status of the country (Zambia et al., 2009). These portrays that the teenagers are sexually active and as a result, their lifestyle highly interferes with the absorption of the appropriate diet in their bodies and this can eventually lead to malnutrition. All these have negative implications towards devising of an effective schools’ nutritional policy.
This paper aims at devising a nutrition policy for Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone that holds students aged between 7 and 12 years. It will evaluate ways of coming up with an effective schools’ nutrition policy that will enhance social, psychosocial and cognitive ability. In this section, I will describe the guidelines followed while devising this policy, I will discuss in details the instrument used in the implementation and its design, and the procedure that has been followed in order to come up with a policy. This paper aims at coming up with a policy that goes beyond paper work.
Design and Instrument Used in Devising the Schools’ Nutritional Policy
The Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone holds children who are in the age bracket of 7- 12 years. This is a critical age bracket since the physical and cognitive development is mostly determined by the nutrient taken from the childhood stage to the entry of the adolescence stage (All Natural Healthy Life, 2010). Although much has been done in trying to improve the nutritional value of this school’s meal, the nutritional standard of the food is still lacking (Zambia, et al., 2009). This is due to the fact that students aged between 7- 12 years require 19-34 grams of proteins daily, 800- 1300 milligrams of calcium in a day, 10-15 grams of fiber in day, around 10milligrams of iron per day, a lot of vitamin A, B, C, D, E , K as well as clean water supply.
The analysis of this policy helps in determining the best approach to take that would facilitate coming up with an effective nutritional policy. This assessment will help in addressing this school’s policy by taking into account the effects of the policy in school as well as in the community at large.
A strong work out of Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone nutritional policy can contribute greatly to protecting students from lack of performance achievement.However; an effective formulation of a nutritional policy goes hand in hand with an increase in cost. Nevertheless, building coalitions, alliance, and association among the school stakeholders can facilitate in formulating an effective schools’ nutritional policy.
The policy will reflect on
- Outlining the rationale for improving the nutritional value of foods offered in this school.
- Creating a timeframe that helps to evaluate the objective of the nutritional policy.
- Creating a work break down structure that facilitates proper allocation of human resource in the formulation of the policy.
A successful nutritional policy for the Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone can only be achieved by involving a number of stakeholders including the parents of the Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone, the community, and the local retailers.
The parents play a critical role in the development of a school’s nutritional policy since children depend largely on their support. The cooperation between the teachers and the parents facilitates transition of positive eating habits among the pupils. In addition, nutritional guidelines offered during policy implementation helps the parents in enhancing the nutritional value of foods at home. The children thus grow in a culture where the nutritional value of food is observed ad observation and can be greatly influenced due to the observation of peer (Robertson & Robertson, 2007: 437).
Through parents-teachers interactions, these parties get to realize the importance of food in the childhood development. For case in point, food teachers and parents learn that food should not be used as a way of motivating students to learn their education curricular or as a mode of punishment since this may lead to bad eating habits or malnutrition. Moreover, the school makes a point of updating the parents on the nutritional requirements of their children in order to enhance the children’s social and cognitive development.
Involving the community as part of stakeholders is crucial since this facilitates formulation of an effective nutritional policy. The community has the overall responsibility of sharing responsibility through a properly outlined work breakdown structure. The community will be made up of pupils, community members, parents and various NGOs. This will help in coming up with various ways of how an effective policy can be formulated in order to enhance the health of the students in Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone.
Involving the Community Agents and Non-governmental organizations is vital since it will help to eradicate various diseases that prevent the students from proper absorption of nutrients in their bodies. Many of the NGOs engage themselves in fighting against malaria, and HIV infections as these infections hinder the students from proper absorption of the required nutrients in their bodies (Chandra, 2004: 151).
Whereas making the National Nutrition Commission as part of the stakeholders facilitates provision of technical advice that relates to provision of adequate nutrition to the students by providing information on the correct nutritional value for each kind of food as well as dispensing proper advice on purifying water from river Zambezi.
The policy will involve encouraging retailers who sell foods that are highly nutritious around the school.This can be facilitated by collaborating with the ministry of local government in regulating the number of licensed business operations around the school’s environment. In addition to this, the school policy will involve standardizing the school’s nutritional standards and sending them to the manufacturers who in turn provides products according to the specified nutritional value. These manufacturers will come up with products branded such as “Zambezi School Milk”, and “Zambezi School Bread,” among other products.
The implementation of the policy will also involve the use of focus groups, interviews and questionnaires as this will ensure that relevant information related to the Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone nutritional information is collected. This will be achieved by exploring the topic thoroughly through discussions that will facilitate understanding of the reasons why implementation of an effective nutritional policy in many countries has not yielded to successful results. It will also focus on collecting the background information and social status of the children in the Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone environs through questionnaires in order to assess their attitude as well as their lifestyles that would affect a successful implementation of the school’s nutritional policy.
Validity of the Design and Instrument
The content validity of the design and instrument used will be attained by coming up with a set of questions, surveys, and observations that are vital in evaluating the importance of the Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone nutritional policy. The instrument will provide the relevant data that will serve to clarify the negative side effects of a poor schools’ nutritional policy qualitatively. Before selecting the stakeholders, the policy facilitators will obtain consent from the participants through mails and telephone calls as this will help to determine the point of their interest since this enhances validity (Pedhazur & Schmelkin, 2003: 43). Therefore, this policy is characterised with legitimacy since the point of interest of the participant is ascertained.
Guidelines Followed While Devising the Policy
The Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone administration provided a number of cases that result from lack of a nutritional policy. The status of these cases was followed through the records by carefully observing whether the affected students were subjected to poor nutrition. Data concerning the stakeholder’s attitude was also collected through investigations. A number of students were interviewed after being given an assurance of their safety during and after devising the policy. This was achieved by protecting their confidential information. The interviews and the investigations carried out helped the policy facilitators to obtain detailed information relative to devising the school’s nutritional policy, and their attitude towards lack of a school’s nutritional policy.
The Coordination of these disciplines was effected by ensuring that
- Reliable representatives were elected from diverse stakeholders including the community, the parents, local retailers, the NGOs , and the National Nutrition Commission
- Ways of collaborating with the all stakeholders were sought after.
- Purchase procurement of drugs and food supplements that enhance health was formulated.
- A network that improves communication exchange between schools and ministries was formulated.
Policies Approach to Food and Healthy Eating
Objectives of the Students’ Nutritional Policy
- Coming up with a nutritional policy that facilitates physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development for all the students,
- devising a policy that facilitates collaboration of diverse stakeholders in order to improve the students health status, and
- coming up with a policy that supports the schools’ nutritional activities, which in turn provide a healthy learning (Brown et al., 2007: 324).
In order to come up with an effective Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone nutritional policy, the school must ensure that
- It provides a nutritious diet that is prioritizes on proteins from plants over protein from animals for all the pupils,
- the food contains a great amount of calories,
- the meal contains the required amount of vegetables that are required for this age bracket,
- the school milk contains low fat,
- it provides the schools with programs that enhance health such as immunization programs,
- it conducts health examination among the students,
- it provides non contaminated water,
- it helps in maintaining sanity within the schools environments,
- it provides adequate education concerning nutrition,
- it provides supplement foods to all students,
- It makes sure that a de-worming exercise is carried out after every three months, and
- It encourages community’s involvement in formulation of the schools’ nutritional policy (Brown et al., 2007: 327).
Barriers to the Implementation of the Policy
The implementation of the policy is faced with some major barriers, which include
- weakened social ties among the stakeholders due to poor coordination of disciplines that have conflicting interests,
- the collaboration of the stakeholders lacked proper clarification of responsibilities,
- the collaboration of the stakeholders lack sustainability and hence, creates an avenue for poor balancing of power within the stakeholders,
- the school lacks adequate resources to address nutrition issues due to economical crisis within the country (Brown et al., 2007: 407).
Enablers to the Success of Policy Implementation
The implementation of the policy is experiencing some major enablers, which include
- schools’ nutritional policy is famous since various stakeholders identify with the benefits of implementing it, and
- through the interview and records of poor performance that result from malnutrition in Zambia, the policy facilitators are able to identify the major problems of malnutrition (Brown et al., 2007: 415).
Evaluation Criteria for the Policy
There are a number of factors, which can be used to evaluate the success of this policy. These include
- the degree at which education performance increases within a specified timeframe,
- the level at which the stunted growth reduces within a specified timeframe,
- the rate at which unhealthy eating habits or malnutrition related diseases reduces within a specified timeframe (Brown et al., 2007: 423).
The findings of this policy implementation show that there are financial constraints towards the implementation of the policy. However, the financial limitation can be eliminated through an emphasis on the importance of the schools’ nutrition policy, contributions and collaboration along the grassroots level.
Collaboration can facilitate sharing of information among the stakeholders. This information can include their personal experiences with the students from the age bracket of 7-12 years. Therefore, all the nutritional information regarding the students should be merged in order strike a balance between their differences, which in turn will facilitate an effective implementation of a school nutritional policy.
The nutritional life cycle should also be put into account while coming up with a schools’ nutrition policy. This means that the Zambezi Basic School, Livingstone nutrition policy should not only emphasize on food that enhance brain development but also incorporate the meals with indigenous food that prevents the students from being infected with diseases that interfere with the absorption of nutrients required for physical, cognitive and psychosocial development.
List of References
All Natural Healthy Life. (2010). Children’s DHA, supplements and brain development. Web.
Brown, J., Isaacs, J., & Krinke, U. (2007). Nutrition Through the Life Cycle. Boston, MA, Cengage Learning.
Chandra, R. (2004). Social Development in India, Volume1. Maharashtra, Gyan Publishing House.
Ilorah, R. (2005). Nigerian commercial farmers versus government commodity marketing boards: revisiting the cost of a partnership gone sour. Development Southern Africa. 22, 643-656.
Martin, J., & Conklin, M. (1999). Managing child nutrition programs: leadership for excellence. Gaithersburg, Md, Aspen Publishers.
Nnakwe, N. E. (2009). Community nutrition: planning health promotion and disease prevention. Sudbury, Mass, Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Pedhazur, E., & Schmelkin, L. (2003). Measurement, design, and analysis: an integrate approach (4th ed.). Hamden, CT, Routledge publishers.
RINK, J. (2010). Schoolwide physical activity: a comprehensive guide to designing and conducting programs. Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics.
Robertson, C., & Robertson, C. (2007). Safety, nutrition, & health in early education. Clifton Park, NY, Thomson Delmar Learning.
Robertson & Robertson, 2007: Waters, E. (2010). Preventing childhood obesity: evidence, policy and practice. Chichester, West Sussex, Wiley-Blackwell.
Zambia. Central Statistical Office, Zambia. Ministry of Health, Macro International. Institute for Resource Development. Demographic and Health Surveys, University of Zambia, Tropical Diseases Research Centre (Ndola, Zambia). (2009). Zambia demographic and health survey, 2007. Lusaka, Zambia, Central Statistical Office.