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Policy Notes: School Health Care and Nutrition in Primary Schools in Southeast Asia

Many studies have shown that the state of health and nutrition of learners affect their school performance. Among the health concerns for learners are nutritional deficiencies, malaria infections, iron deficiencies, among others. Hunger also affects learning capacities of children, thus feeding programs in schools help mitigate these problems. Given these conditions, education authorities conclude that healthy children can stay in school longer, attend classes regularly and learn better. The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH) recognizes the significance of the convergence of education with health and nutrition issues. This area became one of its programmatic strategic priorities under its 8th Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP) 2011 to 2016. The Center foresaw that “pandemics such as HIV/AIDS and AH1N1 and critical health-related issues such as nutrition, sanitation, water values, reproductive health, ageing, etc. will increasingly impact on and require responses from education systems, particularly schools,” since empirical findings have already shown a significant relationship between health/nutrition issues and education dimensions such as students’ access to basic education services and quality of their learning experience, among others. The recent pandemic caused by COVID-19 calls for more active school health care and nutrition practices, particularly water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools, complemented with practice continued at home.


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