School Nutrition Clubs – A Platform to Create Awareness about Nutrition, Amhara Region, Ethiopia
Qerere 1st Cycle and Junior school is located in the East Gojam zone of Machekel woreda, at Qerer kebele. The school currently enrolls more than 1000 students. With support from Deutche Stiftung weltbevoerkerung (DSW), it established health and nutrition club and carry out different nutrition related activities.
Building on what DSW initiated, the health and nutrition club at Qerere conducts a weekly peer discussion on good nutrition and what it means to their community and the students themselves. Their discussion is guided by a module designed for this purpose. A teacher assigned to be a nutrition focal person is invariably on board to guide and support the sessions. Increasing knowledge and understanding of the students and the community at large on child caring and appropriate feeding practice is among the key missions of the club.
Yenesew Mognehode, 7th grader, and Muluken Wale, 8th, are active members of the school Health and Nutrition Club at Qerere. With other members of the club, they received training on nutrition including homestead garden patch preparation and how to deliver nutrition messages to their fellow students and the surrounding community at large. The training gave them the necessary skills to facilitate educational sessions to their peers, the main purpose of which is for the students to take the messages to the community and raise awareness.
As members of the Health and Nutrition Club of our school, we prepare and deliver key nutrition messages to our fellow students through drama, poem, songs and cooking demonstration. In a bid to reach many students and through them the wider community, we use the school mini media. We also organize community conversations in the villages and inject nutrition messages through drama we show amid the conversation. These ways, we create awareness about the importance that nutrition has to a healthy physical and metal growth of children as well as adults, Muluken Wale said.
Abebaw Asmamaw, teacher and also nutrition focal person at Qerer, proudly spoke of the good work the school has been doing to prompt change on the nutrition practice of the community.
As part of the nutrition initiative we are involved in, our school has prepared a garden patch, which we mainly use as a learning center for students to learn gardening and vegetable growing skills. We encourage them to do the same in their home-yard and also create awareness in their community. The school as change agent has achieved a lot regarding awareness creation among the community. Inspired by the school nutrition club, many households began to have backyard garden of their own. You can tour in the villages and ask what our school’s contribution looks like. We do have several students who played instrumental role and became the route to the changes we see now.
Qerere School organizes cooking demonstration where mothers attend and create awareness about nutritious food preparation for children and the mothers themselves. Besides, families of students are provided with seedlings of vegetables and fruits from the school garden. During harvest time, families are allowed to buy vegetables from the school at a reasonable price.
The schools’ efforts to tackle malnutrition and boost good nutrition reach the community through the nutrition club members and other students who take the messages home every day. In this regard, Qerer school’s contribution has been notable to whatever change is seen on nutrition in the community. Nutrition has now become the agenda of the school and the wider community. Care for and attention given to children and consumption of diversified food has also shown improvement. Like Qerer, several other schools in Machakel woreda carry out similar nutrition initiatives that positively support the community.
The Ethiopian Civil Society Coalition (ECSC) was established in 2013 in order to galvanise efforts to alleviate the burden of malnutrition. The ECSC-SUN is chaired by Save the Children and funded by IrishAid.