What schools can do to develop healthy habits in youth

Basic Education for all

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Health and education are strongly linked from age of 5 till 19. Those who are more educated live longer lives with less ill health. It has been shown that higher the years of school attendance, lower are the health related disabilities. In low and middle income countries, higher education is also associated with reduced teenage births and older age at marriage.

Health & nutritional services in schools

Meals and basic services should be provided in all schools

Medical services includes vaccination, vision screening, deworming, mental health services, first aid and medical services. In most schools, complete medical services may come in the form of linkages to a nearby Hospital or Clinic. Mental services should include counseling , psychological and social service programs.                                                                                                 Meals should be provided in all schools, preferably with micronutrient fortification. All students should also have access to clean water. School meals have been shown to increase school attendance. They support physical growth and enhanced cognition. Iron-folate pills for girls are also highly recommended as Anemia is a one of the key reasons for disease burden in India.

Health Education

Health Education should be provided for at least 50 hrs/ year at every class level.

A comprehensive Health Education curriculum should include oral health, nutrition, physical and mental health, reproductive health etc. The comprehensive health education curriculum that should be taught daily in every grade. It should be taught by well trained staff. Health and physical education should be compulsory from Class I-XII. The schools should provide opportunities for students to be physically active during school.  

School Environment

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To get the greatest effectiveness from the Health Education program, it should be complemented by a positive physical and social environment and a strong student teacher connection.

Parent & community engagement

Involvement of the family is critical for developing lifelong healthy habits in students.

The school staff should be committed to engaging families through the parent/teacher meetings, homework and if possible, classes for parents. The school should also create partnerships with community groups, organizations and local businesses to support student learning and development. 

School Staff Wellmess

Opportunitieas should be provided for the school straff to improve their health.

A staff health promotion program should provide opportunities for school staff to improve their health status through activities such as health assessment, health education, and health–related fitness activities.