Ramya Kannan

The aim is to empower children to realise importance of a healthy lifestyle

CHENNAI: Beginning the next academic year, a total health programme will be made part of the curriculum for school students in Tamil Nadu. Students in standard 1 to 5 will be the first to benefit in the first phase.

To be jointly implemented by the School Education Department and the State Rural Health Mission (part of the National Rural Health Mission), the programme aims at disseminating information on healthy lifestyle, improved hygiene and proper sanitation. It comprises “a sustainable and comprehensive curriculum on health and living skills,” Apoorva, project director, State Rural Health Mission, said.

The aim is to empower children to realise the importance of a healthy lifestyle and, thereby, enhance their health. They will also be required to promote healthy living concepts among their families and friends; improve the infrastructure (toilets, drinking water, classrooms) of all schools.

The mission is also to reach out to the community through the children in schools. “Merely disseminating knowledge is not enough, we want to bring about behaviour change. That will happen only if we target children,” Ms. Apoorva said.

Textbooks have been prepared by a panel, comprising experts from the school education department, and an NGO – Health Education and Promotion International Corporation. Elementary lessons in biology and hygiene will be given to first standard students and the curriculum scaled up as the child goes to higher classes.

The mission will explore all possibilities of including parents and teachers, apart from students in taking the message of living healthy across the State.

Teachers will be trained first in preparation for the project to be launched during the 2008-2009 academic year.

Activity based learning components will be adopted to teach students, she added.

Two safety health co-ordinators will be identified in every school to co-ordinate and assist in the effective implementation of the programme.