February 22, 2016
Njala University, 15 February, 2016 commenced teaching ‘Food and Nutrition Security and the Right to Food’ (FNS&RtF) as part of a curriculum to empower students to cope with recent trends in nutrition and food security.
The course was introduced thanks to support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), with funds from the Federal Republic of Germany.
The initiative is in fulfillment of output 3 of the FNS&RtF project, which is primarily to integrate food and nutrition security and the right to food into the university curriculum, and financially support the preparation of teaching modules and syllabus.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Hon. Marie Jalloh, described the course as an answer to the demands expressed by government as well as non-governmental organisations working in the field of food and nutrition security and related programmes.
“Introducing nutrition courses and the right to food for students reading agriculture and related courses will put the graduates in a better position in contributing towards addressing food and nutrition insecurity in the country,” she opined.
Hon. Jalloh stated that exposing students to concepts of nutrition and the right to food would put them in a better position to be able to pass on good nutrition messages to farmers they will be working with, and that the farmers in turn will produce crops that are nutritious for the family and society.
She re-affirmed government’s commitment to ensuring sustainability of the course.
Chief Technical Adviser for FNS&RtF Project, Dr. Margaret Wagah, explained that the course would arm students with the required skills for the job market globally and also for sustainable development.
“Agriculture is potentially one of the sectors that can transform Sierra Leone’s socio- economic development …this is a good platform for linking agriculture for improved nutritional status,” she stated.
Vice Chancellor of Njala University, Professor Ernest Ndomahina, expressed excitement over the support provided by FAO for introducing the course in the university.
Professor Ndomahina acknowledged that the course would help empower graduates from the university impart better nutritional habit into people in various communities they will be serving in the country.
“In the past, the main emphases were on production system and our traditions and cultures have often restricted and sharpened our appetite for certain staple food, ignoring the others,” he observed.
Consultations for the introduction of FNS&RtF started in 2013 among FAO, Njala University, key line ministries and partners. In October 2015, FAO trained 23 academic staff from the Schools of Agriculture, Social Sciences, Education and Community Health Sciences in the course area and supplied the university with up-to-date teaching materials.
The course will be compulsory for students in the School of Agriculture, especially those at the Institute of Food Technology, Nutrition and Consumer Studies, but optional for those in other disciplines.
Meanwhile, a twelve-day, each day combining teaching and methodology seminar, is currently underway at both the Mokonde and Bo campuses, which aims among other things, to spur the interest of first year students for whom FNS & RtF is optional, and to assess understanding of the topics and appropriateness of teaching methodologies.