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Unlocking Potential: School Health & Nutrition

School plays a vital role in fulfilling the health and nutrition needs of a child. Recognising their importance, the Government of India has implemented school health and nutrition programmes that promote fairness and inclusion in education. Such initiatives have their basis in a simple insight: healthy, well-fed students excel academically. When both girls and boys receive quality education while staying healthy, countries prosper by nurturing their human resources.

Investment in school-based health and nutrition programmes, therefore, nurtures well-being and knowledge and fosters lasting growth and inclusive development. They are crucial to unlock the full potential of India’s next generation. This mindset will prepare students to learn, thrive, and make meaningful contributions to their communities’ futures.

Programmes rooted in child health and nutrition support the Government of India’s emphasis on a holistic school experience, with the inclusion of access to clean water, sanitation facilities, and teaching students about health and nutrition. They also cover essential health services at school, like vaccinations, oral health care, vision screenings, and treatment, as well as initiatives to prevent malaria. Here are some of the important, government-led school health and nutrition programmes.

Mid-Day scheme: The government of India, through the Mid-Day scheme, is also providing nutritious meals and encouraging healthy food options in schools. In addition, micronutrient supplements and deworming at schools supported by NGOs, demonstrate the relevance of an integrated approach to school health and nutrition.

School Health Programme: Recognizing the invaluable role of schools as a vital platform, the Government of India has initiated the School Health Program as part of Ayushman Bharat, aiming to fortify health promotion efforts and deliver essential health services to students. This comprehensive program encompasses provisions for infrastructure, human resources, and other essential government support.

Swachch Bharat Mission: The Government of India has embarked on a mission dedicated to achieving universal sanitation coverage and eradicating open defecation from the nation’s landscape. The Swachh Bharat Mission is championing cleanliness and hygiene practices. At schools, it strives to ensure clean and hygienic learning environments for students. This campaign casts its net wide, encompassing students from urban and rural areas alike, with the overarching goal of ensuring cleanliness in schools, the diligent use of waste receptacles, and the promotion of other hygiene-related practices.

Key facets of the Swachh Bharat Mission in relation to educational institutions encompass:

  • Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar: This initiative, birthed under the Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya campaign, lays emphasis on fostering safe and appropriate hygiene practices and conduct among schoolchildren. The Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar serves as an accolade bestowed upon schools that exhibit excellence in sanitation and hygiene practices. 
  • Educational Impact: The improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) conditions within schools, as a direct consequence of the Swachh Bharat Mission, have demonstrably contributed to positive educational outcomes for girls. The provision of clean and hygienic school settings significantly bolsters the overall welfare and learning experiences of students.

NGO Bal Raksha Bharat (also known as Save the Children) is implementing multiple child health and nutrition programmes in India with the aim of ensuring that every child, no matter who they are or where they come from, grows up healthy and nourished. Through a wide range of programmes running across several states in India, the NGO is improving the lives of underprivileged children through education, health & nutrition, and protection, and helping them become more resilient to emergencies.

The NGO implements child health and nutrition programmes through strategic engagements with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, NITI Aayog, and State Governments. In addition, it leverages insights and best practices based on research and academic institutions such as the Indian Council for Medical Research – National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR NIN) and the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) to strengthen health & nutrition programs in hard-to-reach areas.

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