What is school health?
The term school health refers to the learning experiences in health which take place in school. It helps children in realizing the importance of well being and creates awareness about hygiene.Schools play a vital role in developing and supporting children as they grow and learn. Parents and teachers want the children to succeed in school and establish the skills they require as adults.
While health classes are an integral part of the curriculum, it is evident that these classes alone are not enough to provide students with strong foundations to lead healthy lives whether emotionally, physically or mentally.In a developing country like Pakistan, the first and foremost steps towards a healthy school will be ensuring the availability of clean water for drinking and washing, availability of proper and clean toilets and washing areas.
“In Sindh, 100,000 students leave school in the first month every year due to the absence of basic facilities (such as water and sanitation),”
-Dr Iqbal Hussain Durrani, education department’s secretary.
By ensuring healthy school environments we can ensure healthy and successful students. To provide to this environment, health in our schools must extend beyond the classroom to the entire school. According to WHO,
“An effective school health program can be one of the most cost-effective investments a nation can make to simultaneously improve education and health.”
Research confirms that healthy students are better at learning and performing day to day tasks. When they are physically healthy they miss fewer classes at school and engage in co-curricular activities. When they are mentally and emotionally healthy they are able to focus better and are less likely to engage in antisocial behavior.
Promoting school health is linked with multiple global sustainable development goals such as good health and well being, quality education and gender equality.
Benefits of School Health
Physical, mental and social health:
One of the main advantages of school health programs are the enhanced physical and mental well being of students and teachers, children are encouraged to be physically active.
Decreased behavioral issues in classroom and schoolyard:
when children are mentally healthy they are less likely to engage in fights, be less antisocial and overall be good humans.
Healthier positive attitudes:
the program encourages students to be focused on the positive thoughts and be considerate towards others and as a result, students are more kind, compassionate and emphatic.
Enhanced student engagement:
Healthy students are confident and are focused better to participate in class, engage in discussions and provide valuable feedback.
Better school attendance:
As mentioned above, healthy children miss fewer classes at school, better school attendance ensures a better learning environment.
More parent involvement in school activities:
Every parent wants their child to be healthy and fit and with programs like these, the parents are more involved in the child’s progress and development. Family and community members can also become a part of the school health council.
Improved school environment:
school environment should encourage all students to make healthy eating choices and be physically active throughout the school day.it should encourage a healthy body image, shape, and size among all students and staff members.
Improved home, school and community partnerships:
when children are trained at school about health and hygiene, they can act as ambassadors, help in teaching their community and creating awareness.
Implementing and sustaining school-based health policies and programs will make a powerful contribution toward a healthy future for students and ultimately towards the healthy future of the nation.