Mandates of a health education program for schools

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The inherently dynamic landscape of education is undergoing a shift in definition. From the old paradigm that focused exclusively on numeracy, literacy and memory, the world of education is moving towards a multidisciplinary curricular structure in which – alongside academic rigor – co-curricular activities such as sport, music, dance and the arts become an integral part of school time.

An additional dimension to this transformation has been added by the computer revolution. The emergence of new technologies with high applicability in education has positively influenced pedagogies and learning outcomes. Yet despite so much progress, an important aspect of human development was neglected or relegated until the Covid pandemic came as a rude awakening. This aspect is: health and well-being.

Imperatives of creating a healthy society

Good health and well-being are the sine qua non of all human endeavour. Every nation must build a strong health infrastructure and create a favorable ratio between the overall population and the number of doctors and paramedics. More importantly, there must be a system through which every citizen is made aware of major health parameters and preventive measures. A sick population is unproductive and a great user/waster of precious national resources.

The beginning of the creation of a healthy society must indeed take place at school level. Each school should prepare a structured health education program that meets the specific health and fitness needs of students. These can vary from rural schools to schools in urban settings. Big cities and metropolises may need a more comprehensive document that takes care of health issues related to lifestyle, eating habits, sleep disorders, and perhaps some addictions that are more likely to arise in an urban environment. Excessive use of screen time also poses a serious health hazard, which can create problems that are very likely to become chronic if not treated in time. An elaborate health program should cover all these aspects.

Components of a health education program

A standard and well-structured health education program must necessarily include the following elements:

  1. Food and fitness
  2. Health Hygiene and Well-being
  3. Disease control and prevention
  4. Safety and first aid
  5. Community and environmental health
  6. Mental and emotional health
  7. Drug addiction and prevention
  8. Education of adolescents

These are the mandatory verticals that should be incorporated into the school health program. Excessive use and immersion in computer space and digital technology, accompanied by prolonged screen time, poor body postures and reduced use of the natural neural system lead to serious conditions. All of these factors can have a huge negative impact on children’s long-term mental and physical health. We will need to create a separate structure and protocol for ‘Digital-Detox’.

The importance of health for all age groups should not be overestimated. Interestingly, in our physiological system, virtually everything happens in automated mode and unless an illness or disability strikes us, we don’t take notice. Children with cool, supple, and relatively healthier bodies tend to ignore these cues more than their older counterparts. These can therefore lead to habits that may not be very healthy in nature and can cause problems later in life.

The primary objective of any form of education is to acquire knowledge. “Know thyself” is the main mantra in both the physical and metaphysical context. It is indeed obligatory for all of us to know our body, mind and soul in their entirety. This alone will help us live full, productive and socially relevant lives.

There is no better place to start this immersion other than a school.



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The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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