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To be adequately nourished, individuals need to have access to sufficient and good quality food. They also need to have an understanding of what constitutes a good diet for health, and have the skills and motivation to make good food choices. Nutrition education equips people to make such choices. Building countries’ capacities to provide effective nutrition education and promote healthy diets is part of the work carried out by the Nutrition Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The FAO Effective Education for Nutrition in Action (ENACT) project is assisting countries to develop institutional and professional capacities in nutrition education in Africa by producing a basic module on nutrition education at undergraduate level for use by national universities and other training institutions. The course materials will be available for online, face-to-face or blended use and are being piloted and revised to improve and adapt them to local context and consumer need. Creating a learner profile is an accepted step in course design, particularly important in situations where course developers do not have close contact with the students, as in this case. The ENACT learner profile was compiled from replies to a short questionnaire of 32 questions administered to a sample of students. The respondents were the actual piloting students, or were representative of those who would be piloting the course. One hundred and twenty eight responses were received from universities in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, approximately 20 per university. On average, respondents answered 96% of the questions in the questionnaire. Information was obtained on areas such as students’ social/cultural interests; food and nutrition experience and expertise; food and eating habits; ideas of nutrition education and training in nutrition education; and study preferences. In addition, the profile of a typical learner in each country (including age, gender and information on socio-economic background, urban/rural background and English proficiency) was compiled from the questionnaires and from additional information supplied by the tutors. The study findings have helped the course developers to select course content and structure learning activities to meet students’ needs and circumstances.
Key words: professional training, nutrition education, Africa