School children in EBPP Integrated Education Programmes
The priority from when we launched our first integrated education programme in Bunga hamlet in 1999 was to ensure that the children had the motivation to learn through good mental and physical health, knowing that most suffered from malnutrition and serious iodine deficiency, complicated by their staple of cassava and the lack iodized salt in their diet. Free school meals were carefully designed to give the correct balance of carbohydrates, protein, minerals and vitamins. A daily glass of milk provided more protein and fat intake. The meals are prepared by local women, trained by our team how and where to purchase the correct food items and how to prepare hygienically in the school kitchens. Our school organic vegetable gardens have provided a “learn by doing” process by which all children learn the nutritional benefits of all of the vegetables and herbs they learn to plant, grow, harvest and seed-save – providing a foundation for teaching their parents and equipping them for when they are parents.
For sustainability, we educate the children about the importance of a balanced diet and the key sources of iodine and other essential micronutrients, especially vitamin A and iron, from their first week in school. The children then transfer this new knowledge to their parents. Regular analysis of the school meals by our volunteer doctor, Indraguna Pinatih MSc, one of Bali’s top nutritionists, shows each child gets 470-550 calories, 15-18 grams of protein and 10-13 grams of fat every meal.
Many vegetables for the children’s school meals are now provided from the organic vegetable learning gardens established near all our schools. These are rapidly becoming the foundation for future food security and sustainable nutrition, not only for the children in our programme, but also the community as a whole. From experience in these experimental school gardens since 2000, the children rapidly understood the nutrition value of these previously unknown vegetables and how to grow and nurture them. But more important, they enjoyed them and took samples home for their family to try! The best result is that their parents and other community members were excited by these strange new vegetables and once they learnt from the children that they could provide healthy food for their own families, they decided they wanted to learn, as reported in our Sustainable Agriculture report.