SEAMEO RECFON featured five speakers from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines to share policies and programs from their respective countries and institutions on enhancing the nutrition literacy of school children and adolescents during the First Regional Learning Exchange Forum on School-Based Nutrition Promotion (SBNP) held on 24 October 2022 via virtual mode.

Dr. Helda Khusun, from SEAMEO RECFON, presented the lessons learned from findings of 28 studies for the past five years on the different nutrition education strategies carried out at school setting in some countries in Southeast Asia.

The second speaker, Ms. Lailatul Machfudhotin from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology of Indonesia, shared how the various components of Indonesia’s Healthy School Program (Usaha Kesehatan Sekolah/Madrasah in Bahasa Indonesia or UKS/M) are integrated in classroom activities.  The UKS/M is a collaborative program among the country’s Ministries of Education, Health, Religious Affairs and Internal Affairs.

Dr. Airin Roshita from UNICEF Indonesia, the third speaker, explained how UNICEF’s Aksi Bergizi Program supports Indonesia’s School Health Program particularly in enhancing the knowledge and skills of school adolescents on practicing a healthy lifestyle.

From Malaysia, Ms. Siti Adibah binti Ab Halim from the Ministry of Health, discussed how local government nutritionists are involved in Malaysia’s Nutrition Program from pre-school to secondary school level in terms of integrating nutrition in the curriculum and providing nutritional consultancies to schools on kitchen garden within their areas of work.

The last speaker, Dr. Rowell Capistrano from the Department of Education of the Philippines elaborated on the integration of nutrition aspects in the Technology and Livelihood Education subject that is being taught in primary and secondary schools in the Philippines and how the subject is shaping the eating habits of students in tandem with school feeding and school gardening programs in his country.

The speakers’ presentations revealed the importance of implementing a package of nutrition education interventions to effectively address the nutritional and socioeconomic needs of school children and adolescents.  They also stressed the need for good and sustained coordination between and among concerned government and nongovernmental institutions engaged in SBNP program implementation.  Having a functional monitoring and evaluation system to properly keep track of the progress and impacts of SBNP programs was also highlighted in the presentations.

SEAMEO RECFON plans to conduct the forum biannually as part of its special initiative to scale up the implementation of its Nutrition Goes to School Program in the region during its Third Five-Year Development Plan covering the fiscal year 2021/2022 – 2025/2026.

The forum was attended by 63 participants via Zoom platform and 642 viewers via SEAMEO RECFON Youtube channel.