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The regional training programme on food and nutrition planning at the university of the Philippines at Los Baņos
N. R. Deomampo and M. Nubé
Regional Training Programme on Food and Nutrition Planning, University of the Philippines at Los Baņos, Los Baņos, Philippines
As an answer to the 1975 FAO Conference, which expressed the need for "a new generation of nutritionists, able to participate in the permanent process of planning," and in response to the 1976 Interagency Working Session on Country Actions and Priorities in Relation to Nutrition Planning Support, which emphasized the need for postgraduate training in food and nutrition planning, the Regional Training Programme on Food and Nutrition Planning was initiated by the Board of the International Course in Food Science and Nutrition (ICFSN) at Wageningen, Netherlands, with support of FAO. ICFSN is a participant of the Dutch International Education Programme, which is co-ordinated by the Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC). In 1977 the University of the Philippines at Los Baņos, ICFSN/NUFFIC, and FAO completed formulation of the project, and in 1978 financial support was obtained from the governments of the Philippines and the Netherlands.
In June 1978 the first group of 16 students from various Asian countries arrived in the Philippines to pursue a master's degree in food and nutrition planning. In June 1984 the sixth group-28 students from Burma, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand-came to Los Baņos, for the same programme.
The training programme at the U.P. Los Baņos is the only master's degree programme in food and nutrition planning in the South-East Asian region. Its establishment is the result of the growing recognition that nutritional problems cannot be solved by traditional approaches alone, such as nutritional rehabilitation, school feeding programmes, and other direct nutrition interventions. There is a growing understanding of the multifactorial causation of malnutrition and of the relationships between over-all socioeconomic development and the state of nutrition of a country.
The main objective of the programme is to provide countries in the region with a cadre of personnel trained in a broader approach to nutritional improvement-one which recognizes the relationships between nutrition and the larger processes of economic growth and in which strategies for agricultural development, price policies of food commodities, and concepts of community development are as important components of a food and nutrition policy as are food supplementation schemes and nutrition education campaigns.
Between 1978 and 1983 a total of 112 participants were enrolled in the Food and Nutrition Planning Training Programme at the U.P. Los Baņos, Of these, 105 graduated with a degree of Master of Professional Studies (Food and Nutrition Planning).
The participants came from 14 different countries, mainly from South-East Asia:
- the Philippines, 31 (29 female, 2 male),
- Indonesia, 18 (8 female, 10 male),
- Thailand, 14 (8 female, 6 male),
- India 12 (1 female, 11 male),
- Sri Lanka 9 (1 female, 8 male),
- Bangladesh 8 (ail male),
- Nepal, 8 (4 female, 4 male),
- Korea, 5 (3 female, 2 male),
- Fiji, 2 (female),
- China, 1 (female),
- Honduras, 1 (male), Pakistan, 1 (male),
- Papua New Guinea, 1 (male),
- United States, 1 (male), making a total of 112 participants (57 female and 55 male).
As for their educational backgrounds, their basic degrees (bachelor of science or the equivalent) were in the following fields:
- agriculture, 32
- food and nutrition, 30,
- home economics, 13,
- social sciences, 13,
- agricultural economics, 5,
- public health/medicine, 5,
- food science, 3, statistics, 3,
- history and arts, 3,
- other, 5. In addition to the bachelor's degree, 25 participants already had a master's degree (mainly in agriculture or agricultural economics).
Practically all participants had at least some years of work experience before enrolment in the programme. The average age of the first five groups was 34 years (females 32 years, males 36 years). The average ages by country for countries with eight or more participants were:
- Philippines, 32 years, Nepal, 32 years,
- Bangladesh, 33 years,
- Thailand, 34 years,
- Indonesia, 35 years,
- India, 37 years,
- Sri Lanka, 39 years.
A considerable number of the participants were employed by the Ministry of Agriculture or Ministry of Health of their respective countries. Others worked in national planning agencies (such as the National Economic and Social Development Board in Thailand, the National Economic and Development Authority in the Philippines, and the Food and Nutrition Policy Planning Division of the Ministry of Plan Implementation in Sri Lanka). A third category of institutions sending their employees to participate in the programme are universities and research centres in the field of food and nutrition. The distribution by type of employer was as follows:
- Department/Ministry of Food and Agriculture, 32,
- Department/Ministry of Health, 19,
- national (nutrition) planning body, 17,
- university, 14,
- Department/Ministry of Education, 9,
- food and nutrition research institute/centre, 9, institute for rural development, 4,
- private agency, 3,
- other, 5.
The 17-month training programme has a strong multidisciplinary character. It is offered jointly by three co-operating units of the U.P. Los Baņos-the College of Human Ecology, the College of Development Economics and Management, and the College of Agriculture. Some of the major courses are on the ecology of food and nutrition, food and nutrition economics, and food and nutrition planning. There are supportive courses on development communication, food science and technology, social statistics, education and extension, and other related fields.
The Master of Professional Studies programme is non-research-oriented, and much attention is given to actual conditions in the participating countries. Participants are exposed to various levels of planning within the total food and nutrition system. In a macro-planning agency assignment, case study reports are prepared on on-going food-and-nutrition-related projects at the national level. Furthermore, in an intensive practicum course, the participants are asked to analyse the food and nutrition problems in selected villages. This serves as the basis for the formulation of a one-year barangay development plan, which is developed by the key personnel of the barangay in co-operation with the line agencies and municipal officials and in consultation with the people themselves (a barangay is the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines; each municipality is composed of several barangays). The main focus of the plan is on nutritional improvement. Course participants stay in these villages for six weeks and begin to implement this one-year development plan.
To what extent are the graduates of the programme employed in positions where they can utilize what they have learned? In a simple survey taken in 1983 to determine the current professional positions of the first four groups of alumni, reliable information was obtained for 61 of the 81 participants. On the basis of their type of work and responsibilities, these 61 graduates could be classified into seven categories:
- directly involved in food-and-nutrition-related planning, 19,
- involved in management of direct nutrition interventions, nutrition surveys, 11,
- involved in agricultural extension, 9,
- technical positions in food and nutrition, 5,
- involved in training in food and nutrition (universities, colleges, non-formal education), 12,
- Ph. D. study, 2,
- not directly involved in food and nutrition, 3.
(Several of the graduates could be classified in two or more of the seven categories; they were placed in the most appropriate category.) It can be concluded that the large majority are in positions where they can directly use the knowledge and skills acquired in the programme.
The wide range of positions in which the graduates are employed gives a bird's-eye view of what can be called the "food and nutrition system." Food and nutrition planners have responsibilities in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the policies, programmes, and projects in the field of food production, food distribution, food consumption, and food utilization. These responsibilities can be at various levels and in different sectors of the system.
In its efforts to promote and reinforce institutional cooperation in the region, three international workshops have been organized (in 1981, 1982, and 1984), with participants from leading agencies in the area of food and nutrition in South-East Asia. "Towards Strengthening Food and Nutrition Components in Development Programmes" was the theme of a workshop held in Los Baņos, in April 1981 under the auspices of the Regional Training Programme on Food and Nutrition Planning.
The second workshop was held in Jakarta in November 1982, in close co-operation with the Akademi Gizi of the Ministry of Health of Indonesia. (A copy of the proceedings of the Second Food and Nutrition Planning Workshop can be requested from the Directorate, UPLB-FNP, College Laguna, 3720 Philippines.) A significant output of this workshop was a publication entitled "Guidelines for Curriculum Content in Food and Nutrition Planning and Management," which identified a set of ten subject areas that can be used as a basis for training:
- food, agriculture, and rural development,
- human nutrition,
- food science and technology,
- communication and extension,
- sociology of food and nutrition,
- research methodology and applied statistics,
- food and nutrition economics,
- food, nutrition, and health programmes,
- planning and management of food and nutrition programmes,
- the natural ecology of food production and nutrition systems
These guidelines, which can and should be adapted to varying conditions and different clienteles, have already been used for the development of training modules in various countries of the region.
Also during the second workshop a Regional Network on Training in Food and Nutrition Planning and Management was formally established, with representatives from eight countries in the region as its members. The main objective of the network is to enhance the effectiveness of training in food and nutrition planning and management through institutional co-operation, exchange of expertise, and development of training materials. (Information on the network can be obtained from Dr. J. S. Eusebio, Dean, College of Human Ecology, UPLB, College Laguna, 3720 Philippines.)
THE FUTURE OF THE PROGRAMME
Since its establishment in 1978, the Regional Training Programme on Food and Nutrition Planning at the University of the Philippines at Los Baņos, has been operational under an agreement between the governments of the Philippines and the Netherlands. The agreement expires in 1986. Until now, the larger part of the fellowship support has been provided by the government of the Netherlands. A smaller part, about 20 per cent, has come from other agencies such as the UNU, USAID, FAO/UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank, SEARCA, eds., national governments, and private funding. In view of the gradual phasing out of financial contributions from the Netherlands, successful continuation of the programme will be possible only if there is sufficient fellowship support from governments in the region and from international and private organizations.
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