“We integrate lessons about nutrition and healthy eating into the stories we tell the children, the puzzles and poems, and we even integrate it into mathematics now,” Profesora Hilda Rojas Peralt told us. “Because of the training, I know how to produce materials that reflect the cultural diversity in nutrition in our community – and how to integrate it into our class development plans.”
Hilda, a dedicated teacher of over 32 years, has taken part in workshops developed through a partnership between Canadian Feed The Children, Fundacion Alternativas, and the HIVOS and Lovain Cooperation, to help address high levels of food insecurity in local communities.
The workshops are part of a wider effort that has spanned several years of research and work across these organizations to develop a new innovative food security curriculum and education guides. The lack of educational resources on nutrition and healthy eating was identified as a large gap for children and youth in Bolivia – a country where more than 40 percent of children living in the most food-insecure municipalities have stunted growth due to lack of proper nutrition.
The Educational Guides on Food Security and Healthy Eating curriculum was formally launched this past December after consultation with more than 120 teachers and the Teachers’ Academy in La Paz. It will be taught in classrooms throughout 2019 in public education districts.
“We believe food security and nutrition activities should be used as a pedagogical tool. For example, gardens can be used to teach math, biology, and other mandatory courses,” Shirley Estévez, Bolivia Country Director for Canadian Feed The Children explained, outlining the goals of the curriculum. “While our healthy school meal programs help make a big difference for children and youth, this curriculum will help create sustainable change in their homes.”
The educational guides are customized based on the community’s cultural food traditions, in recognition of both the diversity of Bolivia and of the importance of children and youth having access to culturally-relevant resources. The hope is to scale this innovative initiative to reach every school in Bolivia – but that will require a commitment from the Bolivian Ministry of Education.
For now, the partnership is providing educational guides for over 1,100 preschool, primary and secondary school students across three different regions, all of whom will have customized content based on their cultural food traditions. It will provide teachers with resources and tools to integrate nutrition, healthy eating, and food security topics into the everyday learning for students, and it will act as a proof of concept for future conversations with the Ministry.
For Profesora Hilda, the new resources and training are helping her to address the food insecurity challenges her students face on a daily basis.
“I am passionate about discovering new approaches in the workshops I attend, so I can create new materials for my students based on what I learned,” she told us. “I am going to use them to raise awareness about healthy eating, teach students about the diversity of food from their culture, and get them gardening at school and at home.”
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