How healthy is your school? Chandigarh to show way

July 21st, 2011 - 12:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, July 21 (IANS) Toilets, disaster preparedness, first-aid knowledge…these are among various criteria to help categorise many Chandigarh schools under a unique initiative to ensure healthy surroundings in these institutions, government or private.

Called Health Promoting School (HPS), it will be implemented within three years in 185 schools and benefit over 225,000 students. Schools in this union territory (UT) will be the first in the country to adopt this scheme.

For the pilot project, 21 schools have been selected and over 37,600 students will be involved. It will be funded by the health department in collaboration with the World Health Organisation.

“An HPS is defined as a school constantly strengthening its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working,” said Bhavneet Bharti, associate professor at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and co-investigator for the project.

The schools will be accredited with the health department and be required to fulfil certain health and hygiene parameters.

Each school will fill a proforma in which it will list its existing facilities - from health status to toilets, health initiatives being taken and the preparedness of each institution for disaster management and first-aid knowledge.

The schools will then be put under various categories - bronze, silver, gold and platinum - depending upon the goals achieved by them.

“The categories will be allotted to schools based on fulfilling certain criteria of nutrition, physical activity, health-hygiene, stress management and others,” Paramjyoti, medical officer-school health, told IANS here.

Once accredited, the schools will be monitored by the Quality Council of India (QCI), an enterprise jointly set up by the government of India and leading industry associations in 1997.

QCI will ensure that all health parameters are met by these schools.

“We intend to cover all the 106 government schools, 75 private schools and other schools like Kendriya Vidyalayas. There are nearly 225,000 students in the union territory who will be involved in this in the next three years,” Paramjyoti said.

“School health in Chandigarh has moved forward from a single team to more than 10 teams in the last decade. It has moved forward from just a screening team to facilitate health promotion in schools. The 21-odd schools for the pilot project are the ones which can afford to match the requirements for a healthy environment,” she added.

The HPS framework offers an approach involving coordinated action between the three components - curriculum, teaching and learning; school ethos and environment; partnerships and good health-related services available.

Jitender Nagpal, programme director of the NGO Expression India, said: “School mental health promotion programmes should be available to all students and should reflect a shared agenda - with families and young people, school and community partners actively involved.”

Bharti said, “HPS improves the health of the school’s community, engages health and education officials and the school’s community in efforts to make the school a healthy place. It provides a healthy environment and multiple opportunities for health. It implements policies and practices that support an individual’s self-esteem.”

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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