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New school programme focuses on students' health

The 2021-25 National School Health Programme signed recently by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam focuses on promoting education, care, protection and management of students' health.

The programme's target is to ensure the comprehensive physical and mental development for children at preschools, special education schools, and students at primary and high schools.

The national programme has set goals for 80 percent of schools to have adequate medicines and equipment as regulated by the Ministry of Health, 75 percent of schools to provide enough drinking water and clean water for students' activities.

It also sets targets for physical education and sports activities in schools.

According to the programme, 80 percent of schools will have at least one area to ensure necessary equipment and tools for physical education and sports activities as prescribed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

All schools will periodically organise sports competitions in accordance with the law on physical sports; 100 percent of primary and high schools have enough qualified physical teachers who were trained in professional skills.

Targets were set for school meals, ensuring proper nutrition for children, including 100 percent of schools organising lunch at canteens, ensuring hygiene and food safety according to regulations of the Ministry of Health.

Sixty percent of schools will have milk and dairy products in standard school meals according to regulations of the Ministry of Health.

School health education must also be a focus. According to the programme, 100 percent of students must be educated about health and improve knowledge about disease prevention and mental health.

Students must be taught about proper nutrition, healthy and safe food.

Fifty percent of high school students must receive information and counselling on mental health and psychology. Education on the care of children will also be expanded to include teachers, students and parents.

The 2021-25 National School Health Programme also clearly outlines the tasks and solutions for the future. One of the important solutions is to upgrade the healthcare facilities and equipment in schools.

Specifically, schools need to be equipped with medical equipment and medicine to ensure the effective implementation of school healthcare work, meeting the requirements of disease prevention and control especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In which, schools will install tables and chairs suitable for students' height, especially children with disabilities; building or repairing clean water works, and sanitation facilities in schools.

The health and education sectors will also be working to strengthen their inspection of school healthcare including food safety, dental care, optical care and first aid capabilities.

For disadvantaged, remote and mountainous, ethnic minority areas, the Government will give priority and promote the improvement of medical equipment to ensure conditions for teaching and learning, and school meals.

Another major solution is to improve the quality of school health workers.

Many schools are struggling to overcome skills and infrastructure shortages to deliver quality student healthcare.

A principal of the Trung Hoa Kindergarten in Cau Giay district, Hanoi, admitted that private kindergartens do not have a room dedicated to health purposes. Sick students or those injured in accidents, are attended to by teachers administering basic medicines and liaising with parents.

Few private kindergartens had health rooms or simple health equipment so it will still be dangerous if students have serious illness.

According to the programme, schools are suggested to arrange full-time or part-time health staff, even if they are not on the school's payroll, to carry out school health work in accordance with the specific conditions of each locality and each school.

In addition, schools need to renovate physical education and school sports activities, encourage the development of swimming, football and ethnic sports suitable to the characteristics of each region.

They will effectively deploy school sports activities suitable to students' interests and ages, as well as organising school-level sports tournaments.

Funding will come from the State budget, and lawful revenue of schools, as well as support from domestic and social organisations and individuals.