So, January has just finished; there has been long enough to make and break the New Year’s Resolutions that many people throw themselves into after the indulgence of the Christmas festivities. Healthy eating or pledging to lose weight are often at the hub of this January behaviour!
This seemed a good time then to post my next blog, with a more sobering element of basic nutrition.
It has long been part of the hidden curriculum of school, as it cannot be avoided, that children require certain basic needs to be able to live, and in order to be able to learn at their optimum, these basic needs have to be fulfilled. ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ was first raised in my teacher training of some 35 years ago, and then again in an ‘accelerated learning’ course of about 20 years ago and it has not changed. These needs are present in all societies, without discrimination of any sort.
Undoubtedly, it is an issue here in the UK, but it was in Tanzania that I experienced it in a much more obvious and widespread form last summer.
Whilst having the good fortune to be able to visit schools supported by the Karibuni Charity on Mafia Island, Tanzania, I saw first hand how the school enabled the children to make the most of their learning opportunities by ensuring that all the children had a nutritious breakfast during the morning. This was necessary as the school and the charity were acutely aware that otherwise the children may be hungry, and of course in a community where education does not start until age 6, it was a good incentive for children to attend nursery from the age of 2 years.
The meal was a sweet semolina, prepared by a Mum, ready for break-time, whilst the children completed the first school session of the day.
What is the message for us from this? We are so very lucky that our children are largely well fed. We need to be mindful to give them nourishing food as we have the luxury of choice, and we should choose wisely for good health now and in the future. There are plenty of children locally and around the world that are not so fortunate, and this affects their ability to learn. We should do what we can to help, recognise our good fortune, and teach our children the value of nutritious food and making wise food choices.