After attending the SHN training course of 2008, convinced of its value for capacity building and enhancing school health delivery, Ghana’s School Health and Education Unit’s director encouraged Ellen Gyeke to attend the SHN training courses in 2007 and 2009. The lessons she learnt have helped improve the health and education of Ghanaian school children. Below she describes the various lessons she learnt during the training.

Using the FRESH Framework in Policy

The course introduced me to the Focusing Resources on Effective School Health (FRESH) Framework which was broken down and taught over ten days. Here I learnt about the Framework’s Four Pillars which enabled us to learn about deworming children, life skills, water and sanitation, school services and the value of M&E and the value of the integration of these components. When I returned from the 2007 and 09 courses I was able to take learnings and write a report on the framework which I shared with Ghana Education Service (GES) management which then enabled a large scale training programme to be carried out, coordinated by SHEP to build the capacity of school health coordinators at national, regional and school levels across four of Ghana’s ten regions to encourage that their understanding of the framework too.

Before this training was carried out standalone capacity building workshops for coordinators had existed for various themes on hand-washing, hygiene promotion but we now realised the importance of the FRESH components being understood holistically and we wanted to share this understanding through the districts. The framework was then incorporated into the National SHEP policy which was developed in 2012.

Building Partnerships

The 2009 Ghana course served to strengthen partnerships between representatives of organisations in attendance on the course. Opportunities were provided with Deworm the World and PCD who could discuss ways to strengthen Ghana’s deworming programme, which due to a lack of deworming pills hadn’t been carried out in 2009. After these discussions PCD and Deworm the World were then to continued their liaison with SHEP and assisted in collaboration with Ghana’s Health Service and the MoH School Health Unit to carry out a large scale deworming programme in 2010 to deworm millions of school children across the country.

Strengthening Collaboration

During the course’s group work sessions the myself and my other colleagues attending came to understand the importance of strengthening collaboration between ministries and partnerships and how this would particularly strengthen our school feeding programme.

It was through examples given by other countries, such as Zambia, we understood now that it was important for us as the Education unit to become involved in the country’s school feeding programme. Previously, the SHEP had not been actively involved and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development had been leading the programme, but following the course we advocated for our involvement and were then able to provide an effective contribution to the programme.

Enhancing Facilitation Skills

The SHN courses have greatly enhanced my facilitation skills, I have now graduated from being a participant to an international facilitator. Initially, I had been introduced to the FRESH Framework in 2007 whereas in 2013 I facilitated a session on the safe school environment – one of the Framework’s four pillars.

After attending the course, I recommended the training to our coordinators knowing that they could share experiences with other countries and networks.