A health promoting school is one that constantly strengthens its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working.
A health promoting school:
- Fosters health and learning with all the measures at its disposal.
- Engages health and education officials, teachers, teachers' unions, students, parents, health providers and community leaders in efforts to make the school a healthy place.
- Strives to provide a healthy environment, school health education, and school health services along with school/community projects and outreach, health promotion programmes for staff, nutrition and food safety programmes, opportunities for physical education and recreation, and programmes for counselling, social support and mental health promotion.
- Implements policies and practices that respect an individual's wellbeing and dignity, provide multiple opportunities for success, and acknowledge good efforts and intentions as well as personal achievements.
- Strives to improve the health of school personnel, families and community members as well as pupils; and works with community leaders to help them understand how the community contributes to, or undermines, health and education.
Health promoting schools focus on:
- Caring for oneself and others.
- Making healthy decisions and taking control over life's circumstances.
- Creating conditions that are conducive to health (through policies, services, physical/social conditions).
- Building capacities for peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, equity, social justice, sustainable development.
- Preventing leading causes of death, disease and disability: helminths, tobacco use, HIV/AIDS/STDs, sedentary lifestyle, drugs and alcohol, violence and injuries, unhealthy nutrition.
- Influencing health-related behaviours: knowledge, beliefs, skills, attitudes, values, support.
An effective school health programme can be one of the most cost effective investments a nation can make to simultaneously improve education and health. WHO promotes school health programmes as a strategic means to prevent important health risks among youth and to engage the education sector in efforts to change the educational, social, economic and political conditions that affect risk.
WHO's Global School Health Initiative, launched in 1995, seeks to mobilize and strengthen health promotion and education activities at the local, national, regional and global levels. The Initiative is designed to improve the health of students, school personnel, families and other members of the community through schools.
The goal of WHO's Global School Health Initiative is to increase the number of schools that can truly be called "Health-Promoting Schools". Although definitions will vary, depending on need and circumstance, a Health-Promoting School can be characterized as a school constantly strengthening its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working.
The general direction of WHO's Global School Health Initiative is guided by the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986); the Jakarta Declaration of the Fourth International Conference on Health Promotion (1997); and the WHO's Expert Committee Recommendation on Comprehensive School Health Education and Promotion (1995).