Original Research

Nutrition knowledge competencies of intermediate and senior phase educators in Limpopo Province

Xikombiso G. Mbhenyane, Matlou M. Magoai, Ngoako S. Mabapa, Ayuk B. Tambe
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 12, No 1 | a1114 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v12i1.1114 | © 2022 Xikombiso G. Mbhenyane, Matlou M. Magoai, Ngoako S. Mabapa, Ayuk B. Tambe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 September 2021 | Published: 25 October 2022

About the author(s)

Xikombiso G. Mbhenyane, Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Matlou M. Magoai, Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Ngoako S. Mabapa, Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Ayuk B. Tambe, Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Children’s food preferences and willingness to try new foods are influenced by the people around them, including families and teachers. The eating behaviours children practise early in life may continue to shape their food attitudes and eating patterns through adulthood.

Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore the nutrition knowledge competencies of educators in primary schools.

Setting: This study was conducted in Makhuduthamaga local municipality, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

Methods: This study adopted a quantitative, descriptive and exploratory research design. A simple random sampling technique was used to select 30 primary schools and purposively select 200 educators responsible for Grades 5–7. The data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS), version 21.

Results: Of the 200 educators, 66.5% were women and 34% were trained at a college and had teaching experience of between 21 and 30 years. Most of the educators knew the importance of carbohydrates, fat, vegetables and fruits. Only a quarter (26%) of educators knew the importance of protein, although 75.5% knew that protein forms part of a balanced diet. The overall knowledge score revealed that 92% of the educators had a poor knowledge score. There was no significant difference among selected socio-demographic characteristics, such as level of education (p = 0.129), training institution (p = 0.534) and nutrition knowledge (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: The overall nutrition knowledge of educators was poor, with about half of the educators reporting that their training was the main determinant of their nutrition knowledge. Therefore, there is a need for the incorporation of nutrition content into the training curriculum of educators.


Keywords

Nutrition knowledge competencies; educators; primary schools; South Africa, primary school children, child growth and development; nutrition education, learner dietary behaviours; food choices, nutrient content

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