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Enabling environment at the national and sub-national level is necessary for scaling up

The enabling policy environment is key to sustaining and implementing the school nutrition programme at a larger scale. This must be backed up by the commitment of school authorities headed by DepEd secretary, directors, supervisors, and principals, to ensure implementation. One of the important requirements for adoption and implementation of the model is the issuance of memorandum orders since DepEd still follows a centralized set-up. In 2016, memoranda were issued, which included the bio-intensive gardening approach in the national guidelines of the GPP (DepEd Memorandum No. 223, s. 2016) (DepEd, 2016a); use of iron-fortified rice and recipes with indigenous vegetables for feeding in the SBFP national guidelines (DepEd Order No. 39, s. 2017) (DepEd, 2017a); and establishment of crop museums in every school division (DepEd Memorandum No. 223, s. 2016). At the regional level, two government memoranda were sent to all the 19 divisions of Region IV-A in support of the implementation of the nutrition model and establishment of additional crop museums (Regional Memorandum No. 226, s. 2016 and Regional Memorandum No. 446, s. 2017) (DepEd, 2016b; 2017b). These served as legal documents that allowed school administrators to incorporate activities into their school improvement plan, and in turn allowed them to allocate resources to strengthen the programme. The results from the Phase 1 study as well as the information, education, and communication materials developed were instrumental in setting up a supportive enabling environment.

LSs: focal point for horizontal scaling

A LS is a designated focal point school used for establishing evidence (decentralized and location-specific action research site for the ISNM) to support the advocacy and out-scaling efforts of school nutrition by DepEd. Every LS is expected to demonstrate the ISNM, which features a regular feeding programme, a well-maintained and sustained bio-intensive garden, and related school-based nutrition education activities that are strongly linked with each other. For this to happen, a comprehensive capacity-building package, which includes training of trainers and learning exchanges, implementation guidelines, and starter diversity kits (seeds and planting materials) and innovative information, education, and communication materials, was provided to all LSs.

Fifty-eight LSs were established within Region IV-A (Figure 10.4). Learning and sharing events were conducted in LSs. Trained teachers were given the responsibility to train other teachers within their respective school districts or school divisions. A total of 1,598 schools and 626 parents were reached. Inter-division learning exchanges and benchmarking activities were conducted across the region. In addition, LSs shared seeds with other schools within their own division.

The role of crop museums

The 58 LSs were also designated as crop museums (Figure 10.5). Crop museums in schools serve as a focal point for collecting and saving varieties, especially nutritionally relevant crops. This is a garden where teachers, students, and community members can view a diverse range of nutritionally relevant and

Distribution of LSs in Region IV-A. Source

FIGURE 10.4 Distribution of LSs in Region IV-A. Source: IIRR.

Crop museum. Source

FIGURE 10.5 Crop museum. Source: IIRR.

climate hardy vegetables. Crop museums also serve as nurseries (source of planting materials) for surrounding schools and communities.

School crop museums played a key role in the dispersal of planting materials across the 19 school divisions in Region IV-A. An additional 237 school crop museums were designated in Region IV-A. IIRR extended support including planting materials and information, education, and communication materials. The goal is to have one crop museum per school district (comprising around 10 schools).

Seed exchange was another event that was successfully institutionalized within Region IV-A to facilitate retrieval from farmers and households and popularization of indigenous/local vegetables and promote self-reliance among school divisions. Eighteen school divisions from Region IV-A were able to conduct seed exchange involving 1,359 schools during the duration of the Phase 2 of the project. Seed exchanges contributed to the conservation of agrobiodiversity and promoted garden diversification.

In 2018, DepEd invested in supporting the establishment of another 215 LSs and crop museums in each school division nationwide. Orientations and trainings, as well as provision of materials, that is, planting materials and information, education, and communication materials, were provided. This then expanded the network of the LSs and crop museums to 273 in 17 regions of the Philippines, already representing nationwide reach. In the next five years, it is anticipated that the ISNM will be implemented in every school in the Philippines.

Multi-level capacity-building programme for school programme implementers

The capacity-building programme was designed not only for school level implementers but also school officials and programme planners at various levels of DepEd. The programme includes training of trainers; consultative workshop with school principals; orientation of division-level school officials; learning and sharing events (Figure 10.6); and provision of information, education, and communication materials, basic garden tools, planting materials, and on-site coaching and mentoring of local actors. Prior to the training, the research team developed a training-of-trainers manual, which was provided to LSs. A series of orientation events for school officials were held at the national level to generate interest and support. For technical assistance of local actors, it is important to consider the staff movement within the DepEd system in planning and programming to avoid unplanned re-training/re-orientation.

Generating evidence for influencing policies

Evidence for the effectiveness of the integrated nutrition approach has to be established as a basis for adopting the approach on a wider scale. The project worked on the assumption that scaling up and institutionalization of innovations

School visits/exchanges. Source

FIGURE 10.6 School visits/exchanges. Source: IIRR.

rely on evidence of its effectiveness and scalability. Evidence generated in Phases 1 and 2 of the programme (IIRR, 2018c) played a major role in influencing national-level programme planners to adopt the model and allocate resources for nationwide dissemination. The establishment of 58 LSs led to wide-scale data collection. Baseline and end line data were collected and analyzed to serve as basis for recommendations and policy formulation. Teachers played a significant role in documenting activities and data within their respective schools. Results from the research were packaged into knowledge products that were shared with various stakeholders, sectors, and national agencies. Advocacy activities through roundtable discussions, exposure visits, multi-stakeholder dialogues, bilateral meetings, and active participation and sharing in national conferences have been effective platforms in raising interest and influencing other government agencies and programme plans.

Broad-based partnership for school nutrition

Scaling up efforts also paved the way for partnerships with the different national agencies. The Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Plant and Industry supported a national level training on the ISNM to regional representatives of DepEd and Department of Agriculture coming from the 17 regions of the Philippines. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) saw the potential of the ISNM to day care centres (child development centres), which cater to younger children aged 3-5 years old. Within the last three years, DSWD Region IV-A has been investing in orienting select day care centre workers and local governments on the ISNM. Finally, the National Nutrition Council of the

Department of Health recognized the potential of the ISNM to contribute to efforts in scaling up nutrition interventions and to help the country achieve its commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which included wider uptake of the model within the DepEd, as part of the country’s PPAN - Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition 2017-2022.

Fostering better information and resource sharing through dialogue platforms

Multi-stakeholder dialogue and advocacy events that increased awareness, improved coordination and enhanced convergence of the various stakeholders, targeting different segmented audiences are key elements of scaling up. Round table discussion and targeted discussion were organized with key decision makers and officials, and resulted in positive outputs. The project team met with different key officials of DepEd at the start of the project to secure needed support and to ensure adoption by schools. Study findings and recommendations were presented to different key officials at the national level.

Two key round table discussions with DepEd and the Department of Agriculture were facilitated. The discussions allowed both parties to share initiatives and identify similar objective and ways to collaborate. Partnership was forged and a technical working group was established composed of representatives from the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI), DepEd’s Bureau of Learner Support Services, and IIRR to strengthen the crop museums in Region IV-A and to promote a similar concept in another region as part of the scaling out strategy. A round table discussion was also organized with six private sector representatives. Information, education, and communication materials were shared to encourage the use of these outputs in their existing nutrition programmes. Round table discussions are also seen as an effective means to engage and solicit support from local government units.

Advocacy and dissemination via multiple platforms

The research team shared the project in several events. The project was showcased during the Food Security Forum at the Asian Development Bank in June 2016. Initial findings were also shared at the following events: Philippine Association of Nutrition Convention in July 2017 with more than 1,000 attendees; Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians, Inc. Convention in October 2017 with 250 participants; DepEd Region I V-A International Conference of Basic Education Researchers 2017 with 2,287 participants; and the DSWD MIMAROPA Review and Planning Workshop for Supplementary Feeding in 2017.

The research was also presented during DepEd national events such as the DepEd Gulayan sa Paaralan Program National Workshop in 2017 and the Consultative Workshop on Nutrition Services in January 2018.

Events organized by NGOs also served as a point of dissemination. The model was shared in a multi-stakeholder event organized by Green Peace in observance of the World Food Day with 373 participants and in a Campaign on Healthy Diet with 150 participants. Another event involved sharing among NGOs via the Philippine Coalition of Advocates for Nutrition Security. The project was also shared in the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization- Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEAMEO-SEARCA) international conference on the multi-functionality of school gardens and training of trainers (2018) and at the national Nutrition Sensitive Food Systems workshop (2018).

In South East Asia, learning exchanges were conducted between government offices and civil society organizations in the Philippines and Myanmar. IIRR organized round table discussions on nutrition in Yangon, Myanmar attended by 50 participants from 46 agencies. This was followed by a learning and sharing activity among officials from IIRR, DepEd, and FNRI-DOST and officials from Myanmar’s Ministry of Education and Health.

The complete package of information, education, and communication materials acted as a catalyst in the diffusion of the model and guidelines (Figure 10.7). Different forms of materials were developed as support to school implemented and as promotional materials to officials at various levels.1 The use of educational and communication strategies to expand nutrition-oriented gardening programmes are very useful. The posters, flyers, primers, and modules used provided ready information to highlight the gardening and nutrition links, as well as the importance of good nutrition, especially to school-age children. The nutrition campaigns, especially during the nutrition month, provide a venue for wider dissemination of nutrition messages.

Package of information, education, and communication materials. Source

FIGURE 10.7 Package of information, education, and communication materials. Source: IIRR.

The role of media

It is recognized that media have a major role in influencing the wider public. Reporters and writers were engaged in an attempt to draw the media’s attention to important issues such as nutrition and food security, the role of agrobiodiversity, climate change, and food safety. A compilation of resource materials especially prepared for media personnel were distributed. Three media professionals were given additional and longer exposure visits and participated in events undertaken as part of this project. As a result, nine articles were written about the project.

Use of social media as platforms for information sharing

Social media is a significant and low-cost platform to disseminate new knowledge, lessons learned, accomplishments, activities, and innovations among a community of practice to sustain a movement. The project team created a Face- book group (GarNESupp - Gardening, nutrition education, and supplementary feeding) (GarNESupp, 2019) that has 1,047 members (at the time of writing) composed mostly of schoolteachers. The site is being utilized by schoolteachers to share activity photos, announcements, and training opportunities.

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