School health programmes include organized efforts, often based on a planned curriculum or set of activities, undertaken by educators within a particular school or district to promote better child and adolescent development. School health programs aim at providing meaningful progress towards improvement in each component of the school environment.
School health programmes in Nigerian schools are initiatives or actions to promote students’ physical and mental well-being, their families, and teachers. It also aims to reduce health risk factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, violence and bullying, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise. The programs cover a broad array of objectives varying from academic achievement to social skills which is why it is included in the scheme of work as a topic under Physical and Health Education.
The International School Health Network (ISHeN) defined school health programs in the following way: “School health refers to planned, integrated, comprehensive approaches that promote children’s optimal physical activity patterns during childhood so they can grow up healthy without developing major chronic diseases.” School health programs are often part of School Health Services, whose goals include the promotion of healthy lifestyles and conditions for learning. School health services provide a variety of school-based interventions, including School Mental Health Services, School Social Work Services, and School Nursing Services.
Features of School Health Programmes
Do you ever find it challenging to keep up with the constant changes in School Health Programmes? School Health Programmes and their features can sometimes be a little overwhelming. This is why we have created this list of School Health Programme features so you can always ensure you are on top of your School Health Programme by having all the information at your fingertips!
- It’s Mandatory! School Health Programs are designed to help schools meet specific health guidelines set by the governments, so schools must follow these programs; otherwise, they will face fines or closure depending on how severe the infringement is.
- Programme Content: This is the meat of the program and will consist of health education, exercise, nutrition, e.t.c. Some programs may even include a few fun activities such as dance-offs or games to keep them interesting for students. Plan these activities around the age of your students so they are age-appropriate.
- Interaction with Parents: Interacting with parents is an essential part of any program because you can’t make a School Health Programme without including them!
- Health Promotion: In the same way parents are involved in these programs, other community members such as businesses and charities should be involved. This gives students a chance to participate in something they may not do regularly and will help promote good health throughout a whole city or even town! You can involve any local business or charity you think would be beneficial for your students.
- On-Site Services: If there is anything, such as pharmacies or doctors who could provide services to your school, it is worth considering having an on-site service at School Health Programmes. It helps students in need, especially if there is nowhere else they could get it.
- Promotion of Healthy Habits: Because you interact with students so much during these programs, this is a perfect opportunity to promote healthy habits such as drinking adequate water every day and healthy eating. Just remember not to push them too much! School health program details should always be accessible online or even on posters for parents interested in finding out more about their child’s health programs.
- Health Education: Besides promoting healthy habits, the program will also teach students about various health issues, from safe sex to smoking.
- School Clubs: Some districts will also have clubs as part of the program, such as dance or chess clubs. These can help students meet new people and even form healthy habits, like exercise! If your school doesn’t run these types of programs, then you could look into starting one yourself!
Components of School Health Programmes
There are four components to a healthy education system. Students can maintain their overall well-being and achieve much in life: physical education, nutrition education, health services, and health promotion.
1) Health education: The first component is Health Promotion, wherein educators organize several events and programs that aim to raise awareness of the students’ well-being. It aims to promote children’s health and healthy behavior;
2) Physical Education: Also known as gym or PE, aims to develop physical fitness in children. Physical Education Teachers emphasize students to stay fit and active throughout their academic years;
3) Nutrition Education: This aims to improve dietary habits by increasing knowledge about diet and encouraging healthy eating habits. Nutrition Educators help students understand basic dietary standards that support good health and provide guidance for making healthy food choices;
4) Health Services: The fourth component is Health Services, whereby qualified medical professionals advise students on hygiene and sanitation, mental wellness, and harmful effects of certain substances such as alcohol or drugs. It provides for health screening of students (to detect potential problems early), referral procedures for students who need more specialized care, counseling on specific issues related to child development (e.g., interpersonal relations with peers), etc.
When all these components work together in a school, they make up the school health program.
Objectives of School Health Programmes?
- Health programs in schools focus primarily on students from 12 years up to 19 years old. Objectives of school health programs are multi-fold, including:
- Preventing and controlling infectious diseases;
- Achieving optimal growth and development;
- Reducing risk factors (e.g., malnutrition);
- Promoting mental health; increasing protective factors (e.g., self-esteem);
- Increasing the use of preventive care services.
Objectives Related to Physical Health Include:
- To reduce child mortality rates by providing immunizations against polio, measles, tuberculosis, etc., ensuring clean water supply, proper nutrition for infants and young children, promoting sanitary conditions in schools and communities, etc.;
- To provide screening for diseases like anemia, diabetes mellitus type 2, hypertension for early detection and treatment;
- To control outbreaks of infectious diseases in schools by conducting screening tests for children along with staff members;
- To promote physical activity and discourage sedentary behaviors among students through promoting school-based physical activities, sports clubs, etc.;
Objectives Related to Mental Health Include:
- To increase the self-esteem of adolescent girls through skill development training programs;
- To reduce depression rates in adolescents by promotion of healthy coping strategies;
- To make young people more aware of tobacco use prevention, substance abuse prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.
Non-governmental agencies may be involved in delivering health promotion programs in schools at the national level. Objectives of these programs include:
- To empower adolescents to make informed choices;
- To introduce adolescents to healthy living through counseling and skill development training;
- To promote good coping strategies; Objectives related to environmental health include reduction of air pollution (e.g., by promoting walk instead of using private vehicles), clean water supply (e.g., promoting the use of toilets, hand washing before eating or after defecation), proper sanitation conditions at school as well as communities.
In conclusion, School Health Programmes in Nigerian schools or anywhere in the World are much like School health Inspection but SHPs monitor and protect students’ health as they attend school every day. Rather than making sure the school and its premises do not pose a risk to the health and well-being of those studying there (i.e., School Health Inspections). Schools must plan for School Health Programmes well in advance, so there is no interruption of lessons; any inspection problems would lead to punishments for School Management Teams. Schools that fail to meet these standards face discipline from their national government or governing body. School Health Programmes are part of a School Management Team’s duty to ensure the total wellbeing of students attending their schools.