Unveiling school community perceptions of nutrition-friendly school initiatives in preschool settings in rural Sindh province, Pakistan: an exploratory study

Amir Ali Samnani, Rozina Karmaliani, Rozina Nuruddin, Pammla Petrucka, Sajid Bashir Soofi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: In 1995, the World Health Organization launched its Global School Health Initiative to expand the Health Promoting School (HPS). The objective of this study was to explore the perception of the school community in implementing nutrition-friendly school initiatives in preschool settings. Methods: This paper delineates the exploratory phase of a mixed-method study, which broadly aims to assess the adoption of the Nutrition Friendly School Initiative (NFSI) through a preschool preparedness intervention package in rural Sindh province, Pakistan. The study sites include three campuses of the Aga Khan School (Mirpur Sakro, Junior Campus Vur, and a community-based school in Sujawal). Participants were selected purposively from these campuses and constituted a committee named ‘school community,’ which was responsible for implementing all activities outlined in the intervention package. Data was gathered through in-depth interviews and consultative meeting with the school community. Thematic analysis was employed for data analysis. Results: The analysis established five major themes that represent the participants’ perception of school-based nutrition interventions in preschool settings. These five themes include (i) Challenges in health and nutrition for pre-school age children, (ii) Clarity in roles and responsibilities for school-based nutrition intervention, (iii) Advancing school-based nutrition activities and interventions, (iv) Recognizing resources requirements, (v) Opportunities and challenges for the way forward in school-based nutrition. Findings also suggest sustainability and scalability measures that include the aligning School Nutrition Policy with the school handbook, ways to engage with parents, a nutrition theme corner, the inclusion of a parenting component in the nutrition manual, and capacity building of the school community. Conclusion: Qualitative findings have guided the refinement of the intervention package, proposing additional measures for sustainability and scalability across AKES, P. The school community is hopeful that the implementation of the refined intervention package will enhance preschool preparedness toward achieving nutrition-friendly school checklist items. This study holds strong potential for replication in a public school setting and presents an opportunity to launch a school accreditation program to certify schools as Nutrition-friendly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1379229
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • early child development
  • malnutrition
  • nutrition friendly school initiative
  • nutrition interventions
  • preschool

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