United Nations System
Report on the Meeting of the Working Group on Nutrition of the School-Aged Child
Thursday, 13 April, World Bank, Washington DC
The biennial meeting of this Working Group convened at 4:25 pm, due to the late dismissal of the previous working group. There were present approximately 30 people. The Chairman of this working group is Judith McGuire and the rapporteur secretary is Donald Bundy.
1. Presentations were made as follows:
There then ensued a thirty minute discussion, mostly revolving around school feeding programs which, in reality, were only a small part of the presentation on results and school-based nutrition interventions. Most of the discussion revolved around agencies emphasizing their own programs which had been identified in the PCD report.
2. A number of documents were distributed which included recent results relevant specifically to school feeding programs (two on dropout of poor students, indicating that targeting school feeding to all grades may be inefficient from a student retention point-of-view) (Note 1). Another article was on the cost benefit of school feeding vs. improved learning materials (with and without parent/teacher partnerships). School feeding (with and without parent partnership) had no effect on dropouts but it had a weak impact on test scores and it was high cost. Improved materials alone had a strong effect on dropouts and a weak effect on test scores; improved materials with parent partnerships had weak effect on dropouts but a strong effect on test scores and both materials interventions were low cost (Note 2). A display copy of the WFP School Feeding Handbook and a copy of "Food aid for the education of girls and women", from WFP and UNESCO were distributed for review.
A short presentation was made then on the "best practices" identified in the recent World Bank School Feeding tool. In addition some data were presented on the effectiveness of a Bangladesh cash-for-education program in bringing girls to school (Harold Alderman).
Discussion of school feeding continued for 15 minutes. There were several calls for "universal" school feeding programs but others expressed concern about cost and effectiveness of school feeding. Still others argued that cash incentives to increase school attendance could be more cost-effective and need rigorous evaluation. Various country examples were mentioned.
3. A short discussion was then undertaken on the topic of adolescent nutrition. The results of the email survey of SCN participants was distributed but not discussed. Dr. Kathleen Kurz of International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) presented some of the results of multiple programs they have implemented for adolescents (including nutrition, HIV/AIDs, reproductive health, and adolescent livelihoods).
4. In the business meeting, the generic TORs of working groups were accepted as given. The recommendations of the audience for specific work program items was them discussed and voted upon. The proposals for work included the following, in order of final support from the participants:
The group decided to base its work program for the next two years on the first task and Donald Bundy (WB), Pieter Dijkhuizen (WFP), Kraisid Tontisirin (FAO) volunteered to work as a group on this.
The remaining proposals had only one supporter each and will not be detailed, except to note that the Partnership for Child Development offered to take up two of these topics: collecting all available data on nutritional status of school aged children (aged 5-19) and to synthesize best practices in school based programs on helminths and micronutrients.
We then discussed whether the Working Group on School-Aged Children should be subdivided into two groups, one focussing on adolescents and one focussing on other school children. The consensus of the group was not to subdivide this working group but to give special emphasis within the working group to the problems of adolescent girls and boys, especially the problems of reaching them with nutrition services.
The current Chairman of the Working Group announced that she would not continue as such and requested nominations. She nominated Donald Bundy, World Bank, to be the next Chairman but noted that others were free to make nominations in the meeting or to make nominations in writing to the Chairman of the SCN.
The meeting adjourned at 6:45 PM.Note 1. Filmer, Deon. The Structure of Social Disparities in Education: Gender and Wealth. Policy Research Report on Gender and Development. Working Paper Series, No. 5. World Bank, 1999. The other document was not returned. Note 2. Tan, J-P, J. Lane, and G. Lassibille. Student Outcomes in Philippine Elementary Schools: An Evaluation of Four Experiments. The World Bank Economic Review 13 (3): 493-508, 1999.