|Food and Nutrition Bulletin Volume 18, Number 2, 1997 (UNU Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 1997, 118 pages)|
The success of applied science is determined by the short- and medium-term relevance of knowledge developed by researchers and the effectiveness of the implementation of accumulated knowledge. Both of these determinants of success, in turn, depend significantly on the quality and quantity of trained personnel. In recognition of the importance of advanced training and research to nutritional sciences, the Food and Nutrition Programme for Human and Social Development of the United Nations University (UNU) and the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) convened an international Workshop on Institution-Building for Research and Advanced Training in Food and Nutrition in Developing Countries in Manila, Philippines, in August 1996.
The last review of this type occurred in 1978 in Cairo at a meeting convened by the UNU and the Subcommittee on Nutrition of the UN Administrative Committee on Coordination. The meeting in Cairo emphasized the special need for regional training institutions in Africa, where few countries have advanced training capacities in nutrition. Several factors argued strongly for a reassessment:
» the steadily growing recognition of the important role of nutrition in the development of human capital;
» changes in the nature of the nutritional problems faced by diverse regions of the world;
» rapidly changing global socio-economic conditions;
» the maturity in several regions of the world of institutions that have invested heavily in human nutrition;
» new challenges presented to the food system by the increasingly global nature of national economies;
» demographic transitions throughout the world;
» continued population growth;
» other important developments since the last review in Cairo.
The purpose of the Workshop was eightfold:
» to re-examine the disciplinary and interdisciplinary competence essential for institutions to meet regional and national needs for research and training;
» to take stock of progress in strengthening institutions for research and advanced training in nutrition in developing countries since the last Workshop in 1978 convened to examine their development;
» to explore the establishment of strong collaborative relationships among developing-country institutions using modem electronic communications;
» to review opportunities for demonstration and information exchange about training modules and resources for postgraduate training in nutrition and related sciences;
» to define the levels and categories of training required for strong capacities for research and advanced training;
» to review the possibilities for complementary networks of institutions specialized in different types of training and thus reduce the need for professionals from developing countries to seek graduate and other forms of training in industrialized countries as a strategy for enhancing professional and paraprofessional infrastructures;
» to identify the optimal nature of postgraduate training activities of developing-country personnel in industrialized and post-industrialized countries;
» to consider the availability and mobilization of resources for strengthening the research and advanced training capabilities of developing-country institutions, including the need for support by international and bilateral agencies, foundations, and non-governmental organizations.
Most of the Workshop was devoted to issues related to the types of professionals needed to implement the growing knowledge base available to the nutritional sciences and ensure its continued improvement, the supplementary role that short-term training plays in the recruitment and preparation of professionals for specific purposes or upgrading and/or broadening of skills, and the enhancement of national and regional research capacities. These discussions followed a review of the status of training and research programmes for which participants at the Workshop were responsible and reviews of programmes relevant to training and research by non-academic/research agencies represented at the Workshop. Summaries of these reviews and detailed reports of the Workshop follow this summary.
For the purposes of the Workshop, advanced training was defined as training provided beyond the award of an initial degree (usually three to five years after completion of secondary education) or after the award of a professional license or accreditation. Thus the important roles of others with less formal education were not considered. For these discussions, the purposes of advanced training were agreed to be the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to perform specific activities, or a broader preparation to enhance an individual's fund of knowledge, analytical skills, and managerial skills required for lifelong learning and to meet evolving needs related to health and nutrition.