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International education

Dutch international education policies
Regional training programme food and nutrition planning, Los Baños


Dutch international education policies

Pieter Dijkhuizen
Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In the mid 1970s the Dutch Ministry of Development Cooperation changed its policy towards the International Education System* and gave priority to the establishment of training facilities in the developing countries themselves. Improving the relevance and applicability of the training offered and strengthening local institutions were the main goals of this change.

In the implementation of this policy, local institutions receive concentrated assistance in the form of manpower, funds, materials, and staff development support for a relatively short time (four to eight years) to organize training facilities. Once this period of cooperation terminates, the institution is expected to continue with the training of manpower. However, for international commitments in the field of training, the Dutch Government will continue to give assistance in the form of fellowships for foreign participants.

The International Course in Food Science and Nutrition (NUFFIC/ICFSN) Wageningen, The Netherlands was among the first to become active under this new policy. After long consultations, the "Regional Training Programme on Food and Nutrition Planning" (FNP) was established in 1978 in cooperation with the University of the Philippines at Los Baños. Initially, an agreement for four years was signed; the Dutch contribution consisted of manpower (local and expatriate) for management, teaching funds for operation expenses, research work, and staff development and fellowships for participants.

The first one-year course, started in June 1978 at the Los Baños campus, provided training in food and nutrition planning: the integration of the multidisciplinary approach to food and nutrition problems into the overall process of socioeconomic development. The course, which is continuing, caters to government officials from countries in Asia and the Pacific, employed in the planning offices or agencies engaged in this field.

The FNP Programme is not only unique because it offers the first course in Food and Nutrition Planning leading to a Master's Degree, but more important, it is in a position to offer its students an extensive field practicum in addition to a thorough theoretical training. During a period of five months, the students collaborate in an actual ongoing rural development project and are responsible for micro level (village) planning and implementation of projects in close cooperation with the local population. This time-consuming — both for staff and students — but educationally highly rewarding exercise has been set up initially in consultation with the UNU/Nutrition Center of the Philippines in Manila. The field practicum has proved to be an excellent approach to bridge the gap between the theory of planning and the requirements of implementation in the field.

In 1982, the FNP Programme entered its second phase of four years. Dutch support is gradually being withdrawn; the Philippine partner has entirely taken over management and local operations, and the Dutch contribution is restricted to some teaching assistance, staff development support, and fellowships for participants. Upon completion of this second phase, the course will continue to be offered, and foreign participants will be included. It is expected that the Dutch Government will continue to provide a limited number of fellowships for foreign participants; other international organizations will be requested to sponsor additional candidates.

By early 1983, the FNP Programme had trained 80 participants from 16 countries in the region; they are now employed by planning ministries and implementation agencies in the field of food and nutrition. In the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Korea, and Fiji, among others, FNP alumni can be found in key positions.

Another interesting contribution of the FNP Programme has been the organization of a "Regional Network" intended to assist institutes in the region with the establishment of training facilities in the field of food and nutrition planning.

A series of workshops (Los Baños, 1981; Jakarta, 1982) were held with representatives from the region discussing training needs. Proceedings containing guidelines for curriculum development are now available,* and towards the end of 1983 a syllabus for training in food and nutrition planning will be published.

From evaluating the FNP Programme in Los Baños, Philippines as well as other projects, e.g. the International Food Inspectors Training Project, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya, and the Cooperation Project, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, it can be concluded that the new policy of transfer of training facilities to developing countries has succeeded in breaking the monopoly of international training courses in donor countries and has strengthened and stimulated the local institutions.

However, it has also become clear that certain prerequisites have to be fulfilled before success can be achieved. Not only is political will required at various levels to ensure full cooperation and support from the government administration, but the selected institutions also need to possess the management capabilities and administrative services to deal adequately with the logistic problems inherent in the organization of training courses, especially when foreign commitments have been made. Although staff development plans can enhance available skills, a sound administrative basis remains indispensable. Basically the same applies to a third condition: the availability of an academic teaching staff with sufficient expertise and stature to guarantee the required level of teaching. Staff development can mend partial deficiencies in a relatively short time, but another remedy will be required for structural weaknesses.

In cases where these prerequisites cannot be fully met, the Dutch policy has become flexible enough to allow alternative forms of cooperation, designed to meet the prevailing conditions. It is expected that the initiation of training facilities in developing countries will continue in the near future. At present, negotiations are in advanced stages for food and nutrition training programmes in both Asia and Africa.

Regional training programme food and nutrition planning, Los Baños

The sixth course of the Regional Training Programme on Food and Nutrition Planning, leading to the Master's Degree in Food and Nutrition Planning, will start in May 1984 at the University of the Philippines at Los Baños. The course is of 17 months duration and is organized in cooperation with the Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC/ICFSN) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Programme is intended for personnel from government or private institutions, universities or international agencies involved in planning, implementation, or teaching in the area of food and nutrition. It is one of the primary concerns of the Programme to provide personnel with the required skills, knowledge, and attitude to infuse nutritional orientation and to strengthen the nutritional component in various types of development activities. Main courses of the curriculum are: Ecology of Food and Nutrition Food and Nutrition Economics; Statistics; Advanced Human Nutrition; Economics of Agricultural Development; Food and Nutrition Planning; Communication; and Rural Change and Food Science. Elective courses, workshops, seminars, and six weeks of field work complete the Programme.

Candidates for the course must possess a Bachelor's Degree or equivalent in a related field and should preferably come from countries in Asia and the Pacific.

The sixth FNP course has a quota of 30 participants. A limited number of NUFFIC-FNP fellowships will be made available from the Netherlands Government. Applicants are strongly advised to explore other sources of funding, such as their own government, local or international institutions (UNU, FAO/UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO, World Bank, SEARCA, USAID, etc.). In most countries applications for fellowship support can be made through the Ministry of Education, other Ministries, or directly with the funding agency.

The closing date for application for the NUFFIC-FNP fellowship will be December 1, 1983. For applicants with other sources of funding, the closing date will be January 31, 1984. For full information and applications forms, apply to:

The Director
College, Laguna
3720 Philippines


For the article, "Iron Fortification of Chinese Soy Sauce," by Dai Tau-tian, published in the February 1983 issue (Vol. 5, No. 11 of the Food and Nutrition Bulletin, a detailed footnote indicating that this work was conceived, discussed, and entirely performed at the Institute of Nutrition and Food technology (INTA) of the University of Chile in Santiago was not included. The work was done there during the author's 12-month tenure as a United Nations University Fellow and he has since returned to Beijing Medical College. Collaborators in this work were Drs. Fernando Pizarro, Silvia Núñez, and Abraham Stekel of INTA.

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