It is globally being realised that schools play a vital role in the overall development of a child into a competent adult who contributes usefully to society. Health is an important aspect of development of children and education is an important determinant of health. The school curriculum can have substantial influence on health-promoting behaviours, being the strongest social and educational institutions available for execution of intervention programmes.
What it means
The emerging global vision of a “health-promoting school” is:
. It is constantly strengthening its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working.
. It focuses on creating health and informing school staff, children, family and community about cause of death, disease and disability and helping them take care of
. It equips school children to take informed decisions over circumstances that affect their health and create conditions that are conducive to health.
How to create it
Creating a health-promoting school means applying new ways of positive thinking. The school strives to incorporate health into all aspects of life at the school and in the local community, even for achieving national goals.
The key steps to developing such a school are:
. Engaging health and educational officials, teachers, students, parents and community leaders in efforts to promote health in schools.
. Providing a safe, healthy environment, both physical and psycho-social.
. Imparting effective skill-based health education and life skills training.
. Offering access to health services.
. Implementing school policies and good practices that support health as a mission.
To achieve these parameters, the school may aim to:
. Remove barriers to learning and raise achievement as a holistic concept.
. Foster healthy development of students in their school, home, community and peer group so that they can learn, grow and make a positive contribution now and
in the future.
. Evaluate the range of related activities they are currently involved in, identifying areas of need and setting goals for further promoting well-being.
. Enhance the links between schools and their communities in promoting positive learning and health outcomes for young people
. Raise awareness of the importance of promoting health for all of us.
. Establish health clubs for planned dissemination.
Such programmes can be fruitful only if they are initiated and owned by the education sector in close association with health and other related sectors like sports, youth affairs, the mass media, etc. The need of the time is a comprehensive school health policy integrated with the national and regional levels of the educational system. Globally, ‘school health’ has been an important national programme for several decades, largely comprising school health services and school health education. Attempts to view students’ health more holistically through a more comprehensive approach need to be strengthened. India’s National Curriculum Framework 2005 has stated that health is a critical input for the overall development of the child and it significantly influences enrollment, retention and completion of school education.
Above all, the promotion of holistic health on the school platform raises the excellence profile of joyful learning in the students’ formative years.
The author is a senior consultant psychiatrist with Moolchand Medcity and Vimhans, New Delhi. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, marked ‘Dr Nagpal’