- Malnutrition hinders a child’s ability to learn. Malnourished children are 19% less able to read at eight years old, and 13% less likely to be in the appropriate grade than well-nourished children. Providing school meals significantly increases school test scores.
(Save the Children, 2013) (Frisvold, 2015) (Imberman & Kugler, 2014)
- When schools close during emergencies, millions of children miss out on a critical daily source of food and nutrition. More than 370 million children globally were unable to receive school meals during COVID-19.
Make the case
- Pairing education with complementary health care services in schools increases the benefits a mother’s education transfers to her child. Children in Ethiopia whose mother had attended a primary school coupled with access to antenatal care were 39% less likely to be stunted at the age of one than children with a mother who had attended a primary school with little or no access to antenatal care.
- Girls’ education is vital to prevent the impaired development and growth that accompanies malnutrition. If all women completed primary education, 1.7 million fewer children would be affected with stunted growth. If all women completed secondary education, this number would rise to 11.9 million. In Bangladesh, the odds of a child being stunted were 54% lower when both parents had a primary education.
(EFA GMR, 2014) (Semba et al., 2008)
- Children of educated mothers are better nourished. A mother’s education furthers her child’s nutritional wellbeing, even after taking into account additional factors linked to better nutrition, such as breastfeeding practices, water and sanitation, and household wealth.
(EFA GMR, 2014)
- Schools can provide nutritional benefits for entire families. School meals provide nourishment that contributes to both learning and health outcomes for 310 million children in low- and middle-income countries daily, ensuring that children are not too hungry or malnourished to learn. In Uganda, school meals helped reduce anaemia in young girls by 20%.
(WFP, 2019) (Adelman et al., 2019)
- Using schools to distribute take-home meals boosts nutrition. Take-home rations can extend nutritional benefits to entire households, which has been proven to boost the nutritional status of younger family members.
(Kazianga et al., 2014)
- An educated mother is more likely to breastfeed, a key tool in the prevention of malnutrition. Exclusive breastfeeding provides children with all of the nutrition they need for healthy growth and brain development, while providing protection from respiratory infections, and diarrheal disease. It can also help to prevent obesity, and non-communicable diseases like diabetes, later in life.
(Heck et al., 2006) (Acharya & Khanal, 2015)
- Education helps to ensure a diverse and healthy diet that includes micronutrients — a vital component to proper nutrition and disease prevention. In Tanzania, children whose mothers had at least a secondary education were twice as likely to consume food rich in micronutrients in comparison to mothers with a primary education or less. Young children lacking key nutrients like vitamin A and iron are more likely to be malnourished and more prone to infections like measles, diarrhoea and anaemia, that affect their cognitive development.
(EFA GMR, 2014)
- Proper nutrition allows children to learn at the highest rates and realise their full economic potential. Children with good nutrition can increase their future wages by up to 50% and reduce the chance that they will experience poverty later in life by 33%.
- Investing in early childhood education and nutrition yields immense economic gains. Each US$1 invested in early childhood nutrition can generate up to US$18 in economic returns. Solving malnutrition could reap economic benefits 100 times as large as the interventions needed. Conversely, malnourished children who do not meet their developmental potential may forfeit up to a quarter of adult earnings, costing some low and middle-income countries twice their national expenditure on health.
(Theirworld, 2020) (Save the Children, 2013)
- Healthier and more nutritious school meals lead to higher learning. One study found healthier school meals could raise student achievement by about four percentile points on average.
(Anderson, et. al, 2017) (Nutrition Policy Institute, 2017)
CEO of Power of Nutrition
Education is a pathway out of poverty. But there are building blocks that remain vital to achieve the greatest impact from that Education. Besides the physical impairment and vulnerability, a stunted child has, on average, lower test scores on cognitive assessments and activity level. This will severely hamper his or her journey through the education system. Education and nutrition are two of the most pressing global issues today, and they are closely interlinked to the intergenerational cycles of poverty and gender inequality. Education, in and of itself, has an enormous positive impact on the disposable income of the family unit and therefore on the nutrition status of a household or a community. Good nutrition allows children to thrive and learn at school, which in turn triggers positive social and economic changes in countries and across generations. Education and nutrition are drivers for development and prosperity.
Key talking points
- Good nutrition promotes better health, school attendance and learning.
- Education creates a cycle of good health and nutrition. Children of educated mothers are better nourished.
- Schools provide an ideal delivery point for school meals and nutrition.
- Healthier school meals lead to better learning outcomes.
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