Mandates of a health education program for schools
The inherently dynamic education landscape is undergoing a defining change. From the old paradigm which focused exclusively on numeracy, literacy and memorization, the world of education is evolving towards a multidisciplinary curriculum structure in which, alongside academic rigor, co-school activities such as sports , music, dance and the arts become part of school time.
An additional dimension to this transformation has been added by the computer revolution. The emergence of new, highly applicable technologies in education has positively influenced pedagogies and learning outcomes. Yet despite so much progress, an important aspect of human development has been neglected or relegated until the Covid pandemic was 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 any human endeavor. Every nation must build a strong health infrastructure and create a favorable ratio of the overall population to the number of doctors and paramedics. More importantly, there must be a system by which every citizen is made aware of the major parameters of health and preventive measures. A sick citizen is unproductive and a heavy user / waste of precious national resources.
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The start of the creation of a healthy society must indeed take place at the 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 urban schools. Big cities and metropolises may need a more comprehensive document that addresses health issues related to lifestyle, eating habits, sleep disorders, and perhaps some addictions more likely to occur in the workplace. urban. Excessive use of screen time also poses a serious health hazard, which can create problems that are very likely to become chronic if not addressed in time. A well-developed health program should cover all of these aspects.
Components of a health education program
A standard and well-structured health education program should necessarily include the following:
1. Nutrition 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. Substance abuse and prevention
8. Education of adolescents
These are the mandatory verticals that must be incorporated into the school health curriculum. Excessive use and immersion in computer space and digital technology, accompanied by prolonged screen time, poor body postures and decreasing use of the natural neural system lead to serious illnesses. All of these factors can have a huge negative impact on the mental and physical health of children in the long run. We will need to create a separate structure and protocol for âDigital-Detoxâ.
The importance of health for all age groups should not be overstated. Interestingly, in our physiological system pretty much everything happens in an automated mode and unless some disease or disability strikes us, we don’t take note of it. Children with cool, flexible, and relatively healthier bodies tend to ignore these signals more than their older counterparts. These, therefore, can lead to habits that may not be of a very healthy nature and can cause problems later in life.
The primary objective of any form of education is to acquire knowledge. âKnow thyselfâ 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. That alone will help us live full, productive and socially relevant lives.
There is no better place to start this immersion other than a school.
By Vinod Malhotra, President, Academic Council, Saamarthya Teachers Training Research Academy, Ghaziabad