Log in

NCDC using the potato to teach about nutrition

Dr Gorettie Ssemakula

The National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) will soon amend the current primary school syllabus to include nutrition, using experiments, around the Orange-flesh sweet potatoes.

According to NCDC’s Gabriel Obbo-Katandi, they are preparing several teaching materials that should start from P3 to P6.

“These documents are still in a draft form … the pilot programme started in 2015 and we are pleased with the performance so far,” he said.

His comments followed a progress report by Dr Gorrettie Ssemakula of the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) on work conducted to improve the orange-flesh sweet potatoes.

She revealed that the World Health Organisation had awarded Dr Robert Mwanga, a member of her team, with the World Food Prize, for his work on the project. Dr Mwanga shared the prize with two others from Europe.

At variance with the conventional sweet potato, the improved version contains vitamin A and iron, which are critical for growing minds.

“It was suggested that this sweet potato should be introduced in schools through the curriculum, as this would help improve nutrition there,” Ssemakula explained.
“This was based on research that showed that most Ugandans can associate with the sweet potato, and consume 85kg per year per capita.”

The pilot programme started last year in 50 schools in the three districts of Wakiso, Mukono and Kamuli. The potato vines were sent to the schools, and then passed on to parents.

For their part, the parents were required to pass on the vines resulting from the harvest to others in their community, for replanting.

“This has resulted in overwhelming demand, since the potatoes did very well. But importantly, pupils in the participating schools benefitted from improved nutrition and learnt more about the benefits of the foods,” Dr Ssemakula revealed.

“We concluded that if the children’s vitamin and iron needs for a day are met, then the children are bound to become healthier and the crop would spread out.”

The district inspector for Kamuli, Ibrahim Kanakulya, was pleased with the development, arguing that it had helped learners stay in schools in the long run.

“We noted that the learners were keen to stay in school and learn more, since the schools were able to feed them, while their parents also benefitted by getting crops that they could share with their families,” he said.

Comments are now closed for this entry