School Health

A coordinated school health programme may go by many different names, depending on the agency, country or school leading the effort. The term, in its broadest definition, intends that schools will use all means at their disposal to promote the health and well-being of students, their families and staff. These means typically involve coordinating the following components:

  • Policy: Policies that place health and well-being as part of the central mission of education, using the evidence on the link between health and learning;
  • Curricula: Skills-based or life skills curriculum to impart knowledge and skills for a healthy lifestyle;
  • Physical and Psycho-Social Environment: A healthy physical school environment with water, sanitation, adequate structures and a healthy psycho-social environment, with positive relations among students and staff and among students;
  • Services: Access to health, mental health and nutrition services.

Importantly, teachers, parents, students and community leaders will have the opportunity to participate in creating these components for it is the act of engagement and agency in shaping one’s destiny that in itself has power for well-being.

Over the past two decades, there have been several different initiatives described in Thematic Studies: School Health and Nutrition. These include the Health-Promoting School, developed by WHO, and the Child Friendly School created by UNICEF and the Basic Cost Effective Public Health Package, created by the World Bank. In 2000, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank came together to agree that no matter what the brand name, all programmes contain elements similar to those above. United in this way, they coined the term FRESHFocusing Resources on Effective School Healthas an umbrella label for all initiatives.