School health education
School health education involves instructing school-age children about health and health-related behaviours. It is an important branch of community health and must be based on the local health problems of the school child, the culture of the community and available resources.
Comprehensive school health education is a sequence of learning experiences that enable children and young people to become healthy, effective and productive citizens. It includes a list of topics such as personal, family, community and environmental health, comprehensive sexuality education, mental and emotional health, injury prevention and safety, nutrition, prevention and control of disease, and avoidance of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
Good health is the foundation for academic success (Figure 11.8). Children who face violence, hunger, substance abuse, unintended pregnancy and despair cannot possibly focus on academic excellence. School children spend a significant proportion of their time in the school environment and there is a potential for the occurrence and spread of communicable diseases that needs to be addressed. The school health programme is an opportunity for the healthcare system to include young members of the community in the objectives of their health programmes (Box 11.6).
Box 11.6 The objectives of comprehensive school health education
- To maintain and improve children's health and the promotion of positive health
- To facilitate early diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of health problems
- To prevent disease
- To avoid or reduce health-related risk behaviours
- To improve student achievement through health knowledge and improving health skills and behaviours
- To protect and promote the health of staff
- To promote a safe and healthy school environment.