It is a lesson which all history teaches wise men, to put trust in ideas, and not in circumstances.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
On retrospection, perhaps this was the thought orchestrating in the hearts and minds of those who were involved in the visualization , creation and execution of the lofty goal of training one lakh and twenty five thousand cooks and helpers of the mid day meal programme towards hygiene practices and nutrition orientation. There were aspirations , apprehensions and anxieties ; all contributing to the challenges of the daunting task of laying the foundation by training the master trainers at the Bottom of the Pyramid( cook cum helpers) who would then transcend the learnings to their counterparts at block level, incrementally adding, brick by brick, to the ambitious castle of training all cooks and helpers of the mid day programme of Government of Rajasthan.
Micronutrient deficiencies are widespread in India and anemia is a common problem across the country. Rajasthan is one of the states where the problem of micronutrient malnutrition is prevalent and increasing every year.
In order to address the problem of micronutrient deficiency in the state, Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) Jaipur has signed a Grant Agreement (GA) as Executive Agency (EA) to implement the project on Food Fortification – Integrated Program Strategy in Rajasthan with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Geneva.
The Directorate of Mid Day Meal Scheme, Rajasthan wanted the Project Management Unit (PMU) to organize Training of Trainers (ToT) for 1 Block level officers or his/her representative and 2 cook-cum-helpers from each blocks of all the district of Rajasthan, regarding food and nutrition, health, hygiene, cooking and storage techniques. In this regard, PMU, after receiving the proposal for organizing the training, appointed IIHMR, Jaipur for the same.
From GAIN’s perspective, training program covering mid day meal scheme of frontline functionaries was conceived for objectives of sustainable promotion of fortified food, along with promotion of safe practices of hygiene, imparting awareness of different techniques of storage and precautionary measures while preparing the mid day meal, which will ultimately impact the higher goals of addressing malnutrition problem amongst children.
Training of Trainers (ToT) of the Mid Day Meal (MDM) functionaries of Rajasthan on sustainable promotion of hygiene and food fortification was a two-day training program, held in 16 batches at IIHMR,Jaipur in association with Project Management Unit-GAIN and Directorate of Mid Day Meal Scheme, Rajasthan. A total of 710 participants, comprising of two cook-cum-helpers and block education officer or its representative from each block, were nominated for the training programme. These participants , in turn, gave training to all the cook-cum-helpers of their respective blocks after receiving training. The training programme covered different aspects of hygiene, nutrition, cooking and storage techniques and food fortification, which are necessary for the MDM food handlers and cooks for delivering nutritious and healthy food to the school children in Rajasthan. The participants were trained on different training techniques and various aspects of public speaking, through group activities and interactive sessions. The training was inaugurated on 2nd April 2014 and concluded on 20th of May 2014 under the project titled “Training and Capacity Building of the Mid Day Meal Programme Frontline Functionaries in Sustainable Promotion of Fortified Food and Hygiene Practices” implemented through 16 two-day capacity building programmes.
The vision was to create a history in the health-scape of India by addressing the problem of malnutrition at the lowest level through imparting knowledge, developing right attitudes and inculcating correct practices regarding hygiene and nutrition.
The mission was to orient all cook cum helpers as well as a few block development officers and teachers to achieve the vision of healthy state
Some Challenges and their Outcomes
There were several challenges from conception to conclusion and all contained several lessons. A few of them are discussed here as experience builders:
Challenge: Programmatic and management issues like coordination among the three agencies; the sponsoring agency- PMU-IPS, GAIN; The need based beneficiary agency MDM Scheme, GOR; and the implementing agency IIHMR.
Outcome: This was achieved by frequent meetings and clearly dividing tasks amongst the three agency. During the implementation phase remarkable coordination, mutual appreciation and beautiful interdependence was achieved. The experience was one of the best in collaboration and one unified goal for all three agencies
Challenge: Ensuring participation of cook cum helpers, most of whom were young women with children in all age groups and from socio-economic backgrounds where independent movement out of home precincts for women is a taboo in itself .
Outcome: During the programme and at the end of the programme several learnings came through:
ü Women candidates came escorted by their husbands/ in laws/ sons/ daughter/ mothers/ sisters/ friends and sometimes the numbers rose to a point which would impact the training atmosphere. Suggesting alternative arrangements to the companions, ensuring shelter and other necessities without affecting the budget provision, was an experience in itself
ü The overwhelming appreciation from participants on the unexpectedly good treatment and care bestowed on them in terms of lodging and boarding was humbling .
Challenge : The very minimal, sometimes bordering on the illiterate category, level of literacy and education
Outcome: The field experience of some senior colleagues brought in the idea of designing training calendar with suitable artwork and creation of abundant training material most anchored on adult learning principles and audio visual aids was achieved. A great appreciation of difference between literacy and education was harnessed by all organizers. How the hidden talent blossoms with little handholding was visible when a few very less literate cooks and helpers could deliver training sessions confidently
Challenge : Delivering the messages of hygiene and nutrition in language understood by the target audience and ensuring their ownership of the goal
Outcome: Developing audience friendly teaching/training material and pedagogy like demonstration and video clippings, use of regional language for delivery of messages was attempted which was very successful
Challenge : Resource commitment for long continued duration
Outcome: Realistic attribution of funds by the sponsoring Agency GAIN as well as provision of resources and committed workforce from implementing agency IIHMR could achieve the objective.
The above are just a few of the challenges for the sake of documenting programme learnings. The complete project took a heuristic approach where each programme was serving as input to the next and programmatic improvements were done based on experiences of preceding programmes .
Outcome of the Project
1. The capacity building was done through 16 programmes of two days each spread over 50 days.
2. Total 710 participants were trained as master trainers comprising 447 (62 per cent) cook-cum-helpers and 263 (37 per cent) Block Level Officers including teachers and Additional Block Elementary Education Officer (Adl. BEEO),Lower Divisional Clerks (LDC) and Mid Day Meal in-charges.
3. About 84 percent (375 no) of teachers/ BDOs /Addl.BEEOs/LDC were peer-reported as very good or good on dimensions of knowledge, delivery, content and use of training paraphernalia like training calendar and audio-visual aids during classroom simulation of training programmes.
4. Around 35 percent (92 no ) of cook cum helpers were rated as very good or good by the teachers/ BLOs on dimensions of knowledge, delivery, content and use of training paraphernalia like training calendar and audio-visual aids, about 45 percent (118 no) were rated average and in need of more practice and revision of knowledge to become confident trainer and remaining 20 percent (53 no) were found either too shy or too wanting in terms of knowledge levels to impart training immediately or even after more practice.
5. The capacity building was done through 16 programmes of two days each spread over 50 days
6. Representation of all 33 blocks of Rajasthan was achieved
7. Total eight resource persons were involved and in every training atleast six resource persons participated
The training of trainers was a successful attempt to train and develop the capacity of the personnel involved in the Mid Day Meal Scheme in Rajasthan to make the programme successful by sensitizing them about the objective of the programme and making them aware of the roles and responsibility. The participants showed a great amount of enthusiasm and commitment to make the programme successful and effective and thereby achieve the overall objective of the programme. A total of 710 participants attended the training in 16 batches comprising of 447 cook-cum-helpers and 263 Block Level Officers including teachers and Additional Block Elementary Education Officer (Adl. BEEO), Lower Divisional Clerks (LDC) and other Mid Day Meal in-charge and from all 33 districts of Rajasthan. The highest number of participants who attended the training was from Bhilwara (43), whereas lowest number came from Jaisalmer (5).
The pre test- post test result comparison clearly indicates positive impact of training on the knowledge regarding nutrition and fortification.
A Programme done by IIHMR Jaipur.