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Improved Learning through better Health, Nutrition and Education for the School-Age Child.
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Documents & Resources Centre
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Impact of Education on Health
Impact of Health on Education
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Focusing Resources on the School-Age Child
Focusing Resources on the School-Age Child
A child’s ability to attain her or his full potential is directly related to the synergistic effect of good health, good nutrition and appropriate education. Good health and good education are not only ends in themselves, but also means which provide individuals with the chance to lead productive and satisfying lives. School health is an investment in a country’s future and in the capacity of its people to thrive economically and as a society.
An effective school health, hygiene and nutrition programme offers many benefits:
Responds to a new need
- The success of child survival programmes and the greater efforts by many governments and communities to expand basic education coverage have resulted both in a greater number of school-age children and in a greater proportion of these children attending school. In many countries, targeted education programmes have ensured that many of these new entrants are girls for whom good health is especially important. Thus, the school is now a key setting where the health and education sectors can jointly take action to improve and sustain the health, nutrition and education of children previously beyond reach.
Increases the efficacy of other investments in child development
- School health programmes are the essential sequel and complement to early child care and development programmes. Increasing numbers of countries have programmes that ensure that a child enters a school fit, well and ready to learn. But the school age child continues to be at risk of ill health throughout the years of schooling. Continuing good health at school age is essential if children are to sustain the advantages of a healthy early childhood and take full advantage of what may be their only opportunity for formal learning. Furthermore, school health programmes can help ensure that children who enter school without benefit of early development programmes, receive the attention they may need to take full advantage of their educational opportunity.
Ensures better educational outcomes
- Although schoolchildren have a lower mortality rate than infants, they do suffer from highly prevalent conditions that can adversely affect their development. Micronutrient deficiencies, common parasitic infections, poor vision and hearing, and disability can have a detrimental effect on school enrolment and attendance, and on cognition and educational achievement. In older children, avoidance of risky behaviours can reduce dropping out due, for example, to early pregnancy. Ensuring good health at school-age can boost school enrolment and attendance, reduce the need for repetition and increase educational attainment. While good health practices can promote reproductive health and help avoid HIV/AIDS.
Achieves greater social equity
- As a result of universal basic education strategies, some of the most disadvantaged children - the girls, the rural poor, children with disabilities – are for the first time having access to school. But their ability to attend school and to learn whilst there is compromised by poor health. These are the children who will benefit most from health interventions, since they are likely to show the greatest improvements in attendance and learning achievement. School health programmes can thus help modify the effects of socioeconomic and gender-related inequities.
Is a highly cost effective strategy
- School health programmes help link the resources of the health, education, nutrition, and sanitation sectors in an infrastructure – the school -- that is already in place, is pervasive and is sustained. While the school system is rarely universal, coverage is often superior to health systems and has an extensive skilled workforce that already works closely with the community. The accessibility of school health programmes to a large proportion of each nation’s population, including staff as well as students, contributes to the low cost of programmes. The high effectiveness of these programmes is a consequence of the synergy between the health benefit and the educational benefit. The effectiveness is measurable in terms not only of improved health and nutrition, but also of improved educational outcomes, reduced wastage, less repetition and generally enhanced returns on educational investments.
The success of child survival programmes and the greater efforts by many governments and communities to expand basic education coverage have resulted both in a greater number of school-age children and in a greater proportion of these children attending school. In many countries, targeted education programmes have ensured that many of these new entrants are girls for whom good health is especially important. Thus, the school is now a key setting where the health and education sectors can jointly take action to improve and sustain the health, nutrition and education of children previously beyond reach.
The Basic Framework for an Effective School Health and Nutrition Programme
Schools and Health Copyright
This site is endorsed and supported by the following agencies
World Health Organization
Child to Child
United Nations Children's Fund
UN educational, Cultural & Scientific Organization
Pan American Health Organization
World Food Programme
Save the Children