Prioritizing wellness in schools

It has now become mandatory for the teaching fraternity to promote health and well-being of school children
For attaining wealth, we lose health and vice-versa. Nevertheless, our time has gone by and now time has come to save future generations in schools.
For attaining wealth, we lose health and vice-versa. Nevertheless, our time has gone by and now time has come to save future generations in schools.Mubashir Khan/ GK File

Health is wealth; there is nearly no one who can disagree with the three letter line. Because health is one of the biggest treasures we have. Wealth in life means nothing, if there isn’t health. But how sad! Today, we are wealthy but not healthy. For attaining wealth, we lose health and vice-versa. Nevertheless, our time has gone by and now time has come to save future generations in schools. Need of the hour is to lay emphasis on physical, emotional and mental fitness of children who are enrolled in schools of J&K. And for this initiative, our teaching fraternity can play a pivotal role in promoting health and hygiene at school level thereby forming the very foundation of a healthy nation. When students maintain good health, the doors of happiness and success automatically open for them. How well has Billy Graham said, “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”

Teaching in schools shouldn’t just be all about chasing syllabi, enhancing rote-learning and taking exams. It should rather be about fitness, practicality and applicability as well. We have been teaching everything in school theoretically about science, environmental science or other subjects but when it comes to the practicality, the results are gloomy. Still we find school premises littered with polythene scrappers, kids falling prey to fatalistic diseases and social issues and of course getting harassed very easily. Our doling of sermons in the classrooms till now has been hypothetical whose fruits we reaped. However, this hypothetical approach is now over. The Govt. of India’s Union Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MH&FW) have joined hands and come up with a healthier proposal to focus on the health and wellbeing of the school-going children in J&K. The praiseworthy initiative has been taken under the aegis of school health programme of Ayushman Bharat in which a training module for all the teachers of J&K has been developed by National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) wherein two teachers from every school will be trained to look after the physical, emotional and mental health of students in their respective institutions.

In district Baramulla, this capsule training programme of 4 days has already begun with the collaborative efforts of Health and the School Education Department to train 2500 school teachers to execute the scheme and make sure that students in their institutions are physically, mentally and emotionally fit. Not only will now Midday meals and medical check-ups be made strictly part of the school curriculum but health has become the first priority. Experts are of the opinion that the teenage or adolescent years are the most significant years for human growth and development which according to neuron-sciences is important for the extensive brain development.

Children in schools are a rare possession with the teachers, of which they will be enquired about. Now teachers in J&K are not only teachers but health ambassadors as well. They have to prove themselves at par with health experts in terms of endorsing better health, hygiene, and sound mentality in children. Health is now no more the mere absence of disease and infirmity but it is becoming a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Moreover, healthy life of children also ranges from the people they spend time with to the air around that they breathe. India’s half of the population nearly comprises of school-going children who can now be educated about health related issues by their teachers (health educators) in the classroom.

It is worth mentioning here that our teachers till today paid least attention towards health and well-being in the schools. They had kept teaching limited to classroom, completing syllabi and taking exams. Though that was fine yet without healthy life, achieving other things is a mere goose-chase. It was only after Covid-19 pandemic, these schools (exceptions aside) started laying emphasis on the cleanliness of their students. Things were otherwise absolutely miserable everywhere. Some part of the blame should be shared by the stakeholder as well because there are still hundreds of schools which are unfenced, lack drinking water facility, toilet facility and where medical teams never visit.

The new academic session starts with November in the schools of Kashmir. Until new classification is properly done and new textbooks get distributed among these children, we must educate these students about health and wellness which is an indispensable part of curriculum besides laying emphasis on basics and Minimum Levels of Learning (LLM).

Come, let’s deal with these school-children very lovingly and develop in them the healthy living habits so that future challenges seem to them very easy. Even far fetched dreams can come true when we don’t give up on our purpose and stand firm in our cause. Let’s counsel these children in schools about ill-effects of using drugs, overuse of cell-phones or other gadgets, suicides, indisciplined and unhygienic lifestyle, and eating unhealthy food. Remember, if you have good health, you have everything.

Manzoor Akash is from Dandoosa, Rafiabad and works as a teacher in the Dept. of School Education J&K

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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