This section summarizes the limitations of integrating food and nutrition education in the school curriculum and other strategies paralleled with the findings. Most countries have a primary school curriculum that outlines the subjects and topics per grade level to be taught to schoolchildren. However, schools have limited capacity to assess the knowledge and skills needed by the schoolchildren to become food- and nutrition-literate. While the curriculum cannot be changed by individual schools, the teachers can be innovative and creative in their teaching strategies. To help the teachers, lesson plans for different subjects and various grade levels have been developed in the Philippines, Cambodia, and the Lao PDR which can be used by teachers as reference.

Teachers need to be trained on the various topics on food, nutrition, and health. They cannot teach the topic when they themselves are not knowledgeable of what nutrition and health are. In addition, they need to be able to assess the nutrition education needs of their students so that they can decide the depth and breadth of the topic on food, nutrition, and health they are going to teach.

The process of integrating nutrition in the curriculum requires the approval of the education department. It is a tedious process that requires the involvement of other sectors such as health and agriculture. Experts are necessary to provide technical assistance in countries who have limited capacity on this activity. Materials for both the schoolchildren (i.e. posters, workbooks) and teachers (e.g. lesson plans, teaching materials), are necessary to be developed.

There are several operational challenges in the school feeding programmes such that the nutrition education component is often overlooked or neglected. In addition, limited planning, monitoring, and evaluation of meals: for example, how much it contributes to meeting the nutritional requirements of the school- children and observance of food safety practices. There are many schools that do not have school kitchens or canteen, toilets, and washing facilities. There is also no paid staff that prepares the food regularly. Schools may rely on teachers, mothers, or volunteers to prepare and cook school meals. They are not trained and supported to prepare nutritious school meals. Children are assigned into groups and are tasked to collect the food for their class from the improvised school kitchens, distribute the food to classmates, and eat on their own with minimal or no supervision from teachers or no nutrition education inputs. Funding that either comes from the government and/or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is limited, resulting in irregular availability of meals.

Recognizing that not all schools have equal opportunities and resources (manpower, materials, money/funds) for the use of new technologies, the traditional ‘chalk and talk’, books, film showing, and television/radio programmes are expected to be continually used as learning strategies for children. The advantages include access to free electronic books and lesson plans, readily available and searchable information especially in schools where there is no library or with a small collection of books, and opportunities for sharing of materials and interactions among teachers and schoolchildren. However, several concerns to its full utilization and sustainability have been identified such as absence of electricity especially in geographically isolated and distant areas, high cost of computers, lack of internet access, or if with internet access, high cost of internet connection fees.

The use of the digital communication, that is, Seesaw, Facebook, and Remind, was studied by Bosch et al. (2017) in early elementary and middle school classrooms. The study question focussed on the extent by which each digital tool facilitated parent-teacher communication, quality information sharing, and active parent engagement. Moreover, each tool was found to have distinguishing attributes and limitations for some sorts of communication and interactions. For instance, parents whose first language is not English appreciated Facebook and Remind because of the automatic translation, and parents responded the most to posts with personal information such as pictures, awards, or student work.

The schoolchild’s learning environment includes the school, home, and community. However, there are very few activities which ties or links these three avenues of learning or encourages the participation of parents and community. In Cambodia, using the school garden as a learning venue, schoolchildren are taught how to produce food, and volunteer families are organized to take care of the school gardens during the school vacation. The school committee composed of the principal or school head and community leaders also provides support to ensure the continuity of the school gardens. A day of celebration of the food harvested is done with the parents and community. In the Philippines, the Department of Education and Nutrition Center of the Philippines, implemented the teacher-child-parent approach wherein teacher, children, and parents through a well-designed guidebook work together towards attaining better knowledge and practices on health and nutrition. In the past, the workbooks were bought by the Department of Education. To date, the question remains on how children can take ideas and information home when workbooks are scarce or no longer available. Lastly, an enabling environment supportive of school food nutrition and education should be put in place. There are examples such as policies or laws in the Philippines’ Republic Act 11037 (Republic of the Philippines, 2018) which provides for the implementation of a national feeding programme for undernourished children and the Lao PDR’s National School Lunch Policy (WFP, 2019).


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