Nutritional status among low and high academic achievers in selected primary schools in Vihiga division, Kenya
Atiamuga, Maria D.
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Poor school performance is a serious problem plaguing education standards in Vihiga Division. Efforts to combat it focus primarily on facilities, teacher attributes, curriculum and instructional material. A factor that has not been given adequate attention in relation to educational achievement is the nutritional status of the pupils. Since this is an area experiencing food insecurity, there could be a probable link between food insecurity, there could be a probable link between food insecurity and poor school performance. The purpose of this was to investigate the health and nutritional related factors that influence school performance in selected primary schools of Vihiga Division. A descriptive design was used to investigate the relationship between nutritional status of pupils and their school performance. Data for this study was collected using interview schedules and questionnaires. There were administered by the researcher to a sample of 64 pupils, 51 parents and eight teachers in Chambale and Ideleri primary schools of Vihiga Division. Data collected was analysed and presented in frequency distributions, percentages, means and chi-square. The results showed that there was a statistically significant difference between the repetition rates and completion rates and completion of assignments of low academic achievers and high academic achievers. Majority of the pupils took all the three meals at home during normal school days. Carbohydrates are the most frequently consumed among the foods. There was a statistically significant difference in food shortage between the low academic achievers and the high academic achievers. 0There was also a significant relationship between disease incidence and academic achievement. Malaria was the most common disease reported. Concerning nutritional status; 37.5% of the pupils were underweight and 39.1% were stunted. Of the pupils (23.5%) who were wasted 18.8% were low academic achievers and 4.9% were high academic achievers. There was a statistically significant difference in wasting (weight/height) between low academic achievers and high academic achievers. In conclusion, food shortage and disease incidence affect school performance negatively. There is also a relationship between wasting and school performance. It was recommended that both schools and Home Economics extension workers should enlighten parents on the important role food and nutrition play in the education of their children.