Relationship between nutrition knowledge and practices of pre-school teachers from Mumbuni Zone, Machakos District, Kenya
Muting'au, Nduku Jane
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Nutrition is fundamental for growth and development from conception to adulthood. It is essential for health and quality of life at every stage. Earlier researchers noted poor children's nutrition status. Mumbuni Zone is the most densely population in the district and pre-school teachers were given nutrition education. These innovative approaches to nutrition education have never been assessed. Thus, it is not known whether or not they have influenced practices. The purpose if this study was to provide information on the relationship between these pre-school teachers' knowledge and practices. In order to understand the relationship the study investigated the following aspects of knowledge: balanced diet, sources of nutrients, food hygiene, food storage and preservation. Jerome Bruner's theories on knowledge representation guided the study. In addition the study investigated the following aspects of nutrition practices: daily plan of meals, frequency of feeding, food hygiene, sanitation, food storage and preservation. Finally the study explored the relationship among these aspects of knowledge and practices. The population was comprised of eighty (80) pre-schools, ninety-nine (99) pre-school teachers and 1589 children in Mumbuni Zone of Machakos District. A sample of 20 pre-schools was purposively selected and 30 pre-school teachers together with 779 children in their classes were randomly selected from those pre-schools. This was over 30.3% of the pre-school teachers in the zone which formed a requisite to perform meaningful statistics. This study employed a descriptive design. It involved both qualitative and quantitative data collection. Self-administered interviews were used as a method of collecting information about knowledge. Both interview and observation schedules were used to collect information about practices. A content analysis of the qualitative data on pre-school teachers' level of each type of knowledge was also carried out. The quantitative data collected were prepared for analysis using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The hypotheses were tested using ANOVA and Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient (PPMCC). The knowledge of pre-school teachers exposed to nutrition education through professional training and those not exposed was similar though not statistically significant. The trained teachers and the trainees had slightly more knowledge then the untrained. Pre-school teachers are not only exposed to nutrition education through professional training, courses and seminars, but also through the process of socialization, the media and at school in primary and secondary levels. This may be why the nutrition knowledge of pre-school teachers who attended courses and seminars and those who had not did not vary greatly. The practices of pre-school teachers exposed to nutrition education through professional training and those not exposed were similar though not statistically significant. Pre-school teachers who attended courses and seminars and those who had not attended had similar nutrition practices though not statistically significant. The nutrition education initiatives, cluster and panel meetings assisted pre-school teachers in sharing their experiences. Nutrition knowledge and practices of pre-school teachers in Mumbuni zone were related. Pre-school teachers who scored high in knowledge questions also scored high in practice questions.