Health Education in Schools By Paul Favors, eHow Contributor I want to do this! What’s This? Health education is the formal inclusion of the principles of wellness in the curriculum of a particular educational institution. Among the concepts taught to students are information on illness and their prevention, substance abuse and sexual relations. The ultimate purpose of health education is to allow students to have an understanding of their bodies and develop beliefs related to health. Facts Health education is formally included in the curriculum of some schools.
A comprehensive program includes teachings that range from emotional to physical health. Self-esteem and the functions of the human body are also discussed. While the program covers specific aspects such as different kinds of illnesses and their treatments, it also attempts to form values related to health such as improving body image. Often, health issues relevant to the particular grade level are discussed. For example, high school students are taught about the substance abuse and pregnancy. Its goal is not just to disseminate information but also to allow students to develop attitudes and beliefs on health.
Importance Health education is a significant addition to the curricula of schools because health is a source of major concern. The existence of health problems can disrupt the opportunities for learning in the sense that it can disrupt classroom attendance and overall state of mind. Thus, increasing awareness among the student body can reduce the risk of educational disruptions. Furthermore, the development of attitudes at a young age can increase the probability that behaviors will be altered and a more balanced lifestyle is developed. Behavior
The advantage of incorporating these concepts in the lessons taught in school is that the students are able to apply what they learned in other aspects. Health education advocates that the same cause can lead to a wide range of health and psychological concerns. For example, teen pregnancy and eating disorders, although two vastly different conditions, are both caused by a lack of self-esteem. Once this understanding takes place, the students are equipped with the skills needed to relate what they learn in the classroom to other issues they may have. Support Health education is often complemented by other campaigns throughout the year.
What is learned in the classroom becomes more effective if they are reinforced by other events initiated by the school to increase knowledge in this area. Consistency is the key in getting the message across to the entire student body. For example, the curriculum is often accompanied by school-wide campaigns throughout the year. Thus, an effective health education program is one that is done with a broader coverage than those found in the lesson plans. Social Effects The inclusion of health education in schools has been used as a strategy to provide necessary information to lower-income brackets.
As a result, disadvantaged children are given the opportunity to learn about a perennial problem: poor health. The theory behind this practice is that these children are the ones who will benefit the most from these programs and thus display improvements in attendance and academic achievement. In the long run, it is hoped that health education in institutions will alter existing disparities between socioeconomic structures. Ghana: School health programs get students ready to learn When Moses Nyaaba was growing up, he suffered from one ailment after another. But Moses considers himself lucky. His father, a farmer, sent him to school.
He went on to become a principal at his former elementary school. For years as principal, he saw students fade in and out of school. Absences were often because of illness. This is a familiar scene in the northernmost part of Ghana, which according to the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy II, suffers from extreme poverty. These northern regions have the highest levels of malnutrition and stunting among children, the highest child morbidity and mortality rates, the most recurrent cases of guinea worm and other water borne diseases, and not surprisingly, the lowest school enrollment and completion rates especially among girls.
Healthier Children Stay in School To respond to these needs, CRS began a School Health Education Program (SHEP) in partnership with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ghana Education Service (GES). The program, initially funded as part of a United States Agency for International Development Title II grant, is designed to improve the health and nutritional status of preschool and primary school children in northern Ghana. Providing these children with a safe, hygienic school environment and meeting their basic health needs increases the likelihood that they will enroll in, attend and complete primary school.
This is a strategic priority of CRS’ education work: improving access and equity for vulnerable populations. One of the ways this is done is by reducing intestinal infections, such as Helminthes, that so often keep children out of school. UNICEF supplies de-worming medicine and CRS ensures the delivery and proper use of the medicine to over 190,000 children in program schools. Training parents and teachers so that they understand the purpose and importance of the medicine is an essential part of this process.
Fuseini Adama Bawa, the GES supervisor in charge of school feeding for Karaga District, reports that “worm infestation was the most common disease that was disturbing the people of Sung, especially children of school going age. With CRS introducing de-worming exercises into their program schools, Sung has been rescued from chronic worm infestations in their children — and on behalf of the people of Sung, I say a very big thank you to CRS. ” Behavior Must Also Change Of course, delivering medicine is not enough.
To keep children healthy it is important to also change certain behaviors and practices. CRS recognizes this and trains teachers and peer educators in proper health and hygiene practices, such as having students use the latrine when they have to go to the bathroom and wash their hands before eating. CRS also distributes hand washing basins for the students, while the community does its part by providing the soap. In this way, students not only gain health information and skills, they also routinely put them into practice.
In many schools, peer educators also form clubs that develop hygiene education messages, school health improvement plans, drama performances, and clean-up campaigns. More Children Ready to Learn All these efforts are working. Fewer children are absent due to sickness. Attendance at schools has increased. Behaviors have changed as well. At the beginning of the program, only 43% of students in program schools practiced appropriate hygiene behaviors; two years later at the mid-point of the program, 79% of children were practicing such behaviors.
There is also evidence that students are now spreading the messages they hear at school and educating their parents about proper health and hygiene practices. Moses Nyaaba, now the GES District School Health Coordinator, says “the program has galvanized school children and community members into action to change the sanitation situation in their schools and communities. ” And those who ultimately benefit are the increasing numbers of children who remain healthy enough to stay in school. For more information, contact Anne Sellers ([email protected] org), CRS Education Technical Advisor.