With positive effects after one year of implementing the model “School meals with reasonable nutrition combined with increased physical activity for Vietnamese children and students”, leaders of the schools and localities all expressed their wish that the model will continue to be deployed and replicated so that all students can enjoy the benefits brought by the model, thus improving the nutritional indicators of Vietnamese children and the stature of Vietnamese people in the future, as well as minimising non-communicable diseases.
FOR MORE CHILDREN BENEFITING FROM THE MODEL
As the principal of a school directly benefiting from the project during the past year, who accompanied all activities of the project and clearly recognised the mental and physical changes of the children as well as the change in awareness of school nutrition of the school’s staff, teachers and parents, Dr. Dao Thi My, Principal of the Hoa Hong Practical Kindergarten, said “We hope the project will continue to provide the best health care for children.”
“We hope the project will continue to provide the best health care for children.”Dr. Dao Thi My
For mountainous areas which still have many difficulties in terms of economic conditions, people often pay little attention to nutrition for their children so the desire to replicate the model is even larger.
According to Nguyen Van Chien, Deputy Director of the Department of Education and Training of Son La province, students in mountainous areas often do not enjoy nutritious meals as in lowland areas. Therefore, the application of hundreds of menus, with a variety of rich foods and daily balanced nutrition from clean fresh milk, like at the To Mua Primary School, a project beneficiary, has made students very excited.
Chien said that when applying the model, the biggest impact is to change the perception of teachers and parents. Instead of worrying about pupils eating enough and full, parents and schools now pay attention to nutritious, balanced foods.
The leader of the Son La education sector said that in the province, about 50,000 students are entitled to the day-boarding policy, but currently there are only 178 day-boarding schools, meeting about one-third of the needs. Most of the remaining students have to rent accommodation, stay at friends’ houses or prepare lunches by themselves. “Therefore, we look forward to applying the model in more schools in the province instead of two at present,” said Chien.
“Therefore, we look forward to applying the model in more schools in the province instead of two at present. ”NGUYEN VAN CHIEN
Expressing his pleasure with the model, Vu Van Tra, Director of the Department of Education and Training of Hai Phong city, said that with this model, the menu is developed by nutritionists to ensure the necessary nutrition and micronutrients for children. Schools have software to calculate meals that are nutritionally adequate and in line with the payment rates of parents and the actual local conditions. They also make most of their facilities and choose activities suitable for children.
“We will review the project and replicate it in the entire system of preschools in Hai Phong city,” said Tra.
Meanwhile, in the central province of Quang Nam, Director of the Department of Education and Training Ha Thanh Quoc said that although the locality still faces many difficulties and the budget is limited, funding for the School Meals and School Milk projects has been planned by the province until 2024.
“We cannot teach and provide knowledge to children when they have a thin and weak body. I appreciate the decision by the Department of Physical Education under the Ministry of Education and Training to make changes in physical education, especially starting from preschool and primary school students. We have to prepare children with a healthy body so that they can learn and acquire knowledge well,” Quoc noted.
Quoc also highly valued the nutritional value of fresh milk, which is reflected in the figures summarizing the physical development and stature of children after one year of implementing the model as well as the School Milk programme in Quang Nam.
As the direct manager of the Son Ca Kindergarten, also a beneficiary of the project in the past year, Nguyen Thi Thanh Hien, deputy head of the Education and Training Department of Tam Ky city said “The warm response from schools, students and parents is the first step for the programme to be widely deployed across the country, because investing in future stature is always a worthy investment!”
MANY SOLUTIONS NEEDED
Speaking highly of the model, Doctor Tu Ngu, Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Nutrition Association, said there were many studies and activities to promote school meals, but those models failed to make an overall assessment of whether meals are scientific and reasonable. The main reason was the lack of periodic supervision by professionals.
“Deploying school meals is a difficult problem as it depends on many factors such as payment rates, local economy and knowledge of nutrition. In addition, support of parents and society is also needed. Without professional training support and periodic supervision by experts, it will be extremely difficult for the local education sector to well manage the implementation of meals at school,” said Doctor Tu Tu.
However, he held that this shortcoming has been fixed in the model “School meals with reasonable nutrition combined with increased physical activity for Vietnamese children and students”.
“The exemplary model is an important experiment in applying the necessary solutions to make it feasible and comprehensive. The menus are designed by experts based on real conditions of each locality by surveying and assessing the nutritional status, kitchen standards, human resources, professional qualifications, payment rates, food and eating habits. The project also supports training, practice, monitoring and supervision activities with the participation of experts. It organises parent-student seminars to encourage the society and parents to engage in nutrition education,” said Ngu.
Regarding the proposals on replicating the model, Dr. Ngu said that to do this, it is necessary to answer many questions, such as without financial support from sponsors, can schools maintain the menus by asking parents to pay more? Are periodical and methodical evaluation, management and supervision guaranteed when expanding the model? How should facilities and human resources be arranged? How is the coordination between the health and education sector?…
“The expansion of the model to cities and provinces is also the goal of the School Meals programme in the school health project implemented by the Ministry of Education and Training. Solving these questions is also what we need to do right now to standardize school meals,” said Ngu.
Students in Quang Nam receive nutrition education and enjoy nutritious meals at school thanks to the implementation of the model.
He raised special concerns over the rapid increase in overweight and obesity among children today and said that this rings an alarm bell on very dangerous diseases for children such as dyslipidemia, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Therefore, it is necessary to have a periodic nutrition monitoring network to provide data for parents, students and society for early intervention solutions.
In fact, when it was implemented in 10 provinces in the last school year, the model received a great sponsorship from TH Group as a research supporter, from surveying, proposing training plans to providing financial support to improve kitchen facilities, buy sports training equipment and better meals. It also provides free fresh milk to students in disadvantaged areas.
SOCIAL RESOURCES MOBILISATION AND NATIONAL POLICIES
Agreeing with the recommendations and proposals on model expansion, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Ngo Thi Minh said that the ministry believes that with a methodical, rigorous, scientific and highly practical method, the model will be replicated in the near future, especially after Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam signed a decision approving the “School Health Programme for 2021-2025” on October 2.
The programme consists of five contents, of which three are similar to those of the model, including physical activities, school meals and education and communications activities. The remaining two are the care, protection and management of student health and the application of information technology.
Regarding physical activities, the programme targets that 80 percent of schools will have the necessary equipment for physical education and sports activities; 85 percent of schools will organize appropriate physical activities for students through extracurricular sports activities and sports clubs; and all high schools will have enough physical education teachers trained in professional qualifications…
Regarding school meals, all schools will organize educational activities on reasonable nutrition, healthy and safe food for students through regular school hours and extracurricular activities; 100 percent of schools are set to organize school meals and school canteens that meet hygiene and food safety standards as prescribed, of which 60 percent of schools are in urban areas and 40 percent of schools in rural areas develop menus according to the recommendations of the Ministry of Health on ensuring appropriate nutrition. Sixty percent of schools will provide school meals using milk and dairy products meeting the prescribed standards.
Regarding the school health education in schools, the programme sets the target of having all students educated on health and provided with knowledge of disease prevention and control, school and non-communicable diseases. and mental health. Students will be educated on proper nutrition, healthy and safe food; while 95 percent of school managers, teachers and health workers are trained in the care, protection and management of student health in schools.
Regarding the budget issue, Deputy Minister Ngo Thi Minh said that in order to replicate the model and implement the School Health Programme for the 2021-2025 period, it needs the engagement of the whole society in addition to the companionship of the Ministry of Education and Training, relevant ministries and agencies, and TH Group. She also suggested that localities should actively look for communication sponsors for the model.
While the education sector continues to look for more sponsors, Thai Huong – Founder, Chairwoman of the Strategy Council of TH Group, pledges to continue accompanying the programme so that it can be implemented in 20 cities and provinces across the country in the next stage, ensuring school meals are supplemented with clean fresh milk and dairy products that meet the prescribed standards.
“I am really happy as our efforts to give golden-aged children a reasonable and comprehensive diet through school meals have brought about results. Children who are healthy will learn well. Their health and intelligence today is the strength of tomorrow’s nation”, the Founder of TH Group said. Thai Huong also expressed her belief that there will be many benefactors willing to join hands with the ministry because this programme holds national strategic significance.
Huong also suggested that the Ministry of Education and Training set up a scientific council to evaluate, draw experience and propose the Government to issue strong decisions regarding school nutrition in order to achieve the goal of improving the physical strength and stature of Vietnamese people.
“I am really happy as our efforts to give golden-aged children a reasonable and comprehensive diet through school meals have brought about results. Children who are healthy will learn well. Their health and intelligence today is the strength of tomorrow’s nation.”THAI HUONG, FOUNDER OF TH GROUP
Affirming that TH Group’s enthusiastic and responsible companionship plays a special role in the success of the project, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Ngo Thi Minh said that the education sector will continue to conduct surveys for model expansion. It will also focus on digitization, building a database in each locality, enhancing food hygiene and safety, focusing on nutritional menus suitable for each region, and strengthening the inspection and monitoring of the model implementation.
The model implementation results will be used as a scientific and practical basis for the expansion of the model in contribution to the implementation of the “School Health Programme for 2021-2025”, as well as for proposing the development of policies on school nutrition to realize one of the important contents of the Master Plan on development of physical fitness and stature of Vietnamese people in the 2011-2030 period, the National Strategy on Nutrition for 2021-2030, with a vision to 2040, contributing to nurturing and improving the stature, health and intelligence of future generations.
With a focus on solving the dual problems of obesity induced by over-nutrition and stunting due to poor nutrition, this is really a programme of long-term practical significance, contributing to solving the issue of Vietnamese stature. “The health and intelligence of children today is the strength of tomorrow’s nation” – that is certainly the thinking of not only founder of TH Group Thai Huong, a businesswoman who is always devoted to the business philosophies of a kind person./.
“The health and intelligence of children today is the strength of tomorrow’s nation.”THAI HUONG, FOUNDER OF TH GROUP