Unicef and du team up for school pupil health education drive

The initiative aims to address the challenges of delivering health education to pupils and promote the use of active, participatory learning activities for developing knowledge, attitudes and skills for children to make healthy choices.

Students playing volley ball during the physical education class on the first day of school after summer vacations at The Elite English School in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // Schoolchildren are the target of a new, healthy living initiative being set up by the United Nations Children’s Fund, in partnership with du.

Launched after the success of Unicef’s pilot School Health Education project last year, the pilot project addresses the challenges of delivering health education to pupils.

It also promotes the use of active, participatory learning activities for developing knowledge, attitudes and skills for children to make healthy choices.

The project, across 18 government secondary schools, led to an increase in knowledge of health in 15 per cent of girls and 12 per cent of boys.

“As knowledge is the stepping stone for students to adopt a healthier lifestyle, analysis showed an average improvement in students’ knowledge by 14 per cent at the end of the project, which is a great start for students,” said Dr Ibrahim El Ziq, Unicef Gulf area office representative.

“Two main goals were also achieved. The first was the launch of the healthy education manual, which will be available for health educators such as nurses as an instrument to aid in health education through a more participatory approach.

“And the second goal was the development of the healthy life skills framework, which was shared with our partners to help mainstream the project and reach more children across the UAE.”

The health skills manual includes a number of activities, methods, tools and resources to deliver health education using an interactive approach. It is divided into three parts: explaining the concept of health education based on skills, providing a range of interactive activities during health education sessions and applying process models designed by a team of health educators.

The manual is designed for health educators working with pupils between 11 and 16.

“We are pleased to witness today the launch of health skills manual, following the successful completion of the pilot phase of the School Health Education project, which represents a pivotal step in ensuring a healthier and happier future for younger generations in the UAE,” said Hala Badri, executive vice president, brand and communications at du.

“We are keen to motivate all members of the UAE society, young and old alike, to adopt a healthy, balanced lifestyle, a goal that we have already introduced a number of initiatives to attain, most importantly our Every Step Counts national campaign.”

The school health education project was launched in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Seha ambulatory health services and du.

“The health skills manual was distinguished by the joint efforts between several vital sectors, especially the health and education sectors in collaboration with du and Unicef, to promote the health of all members of the community and provide needed health care for all citizens and residents,” said Dr Hussain Mohammed Al Rand, assistant undersecretary for Health Centres and Clinics at the Ministry of Health.

Hassan Lootah, of the Ministry of Education, said that targets to promote healthy activities have been adopted within the ministry’s strategy.

“We always seek and welcome effective partnerships aimed at implementing national plans to build conscious students, who are aware of the ways to maintain their health, prevent disease and adopt healthy habits, in addition to providing a suitable environment for them to learn and to live, while avoiding the risks and challenges that may threaten their health,” he said.