UNESCO and WHO urge countries to make every school a health-promoting school

UNESCO and WHO urge countries to make every school a health-promoting school

On 22 June 2021 UNESCO and the World Health Organization launched the Global Standards for Health-promoting Schools, a resource package for schools to improve the health and well-being of 1.9 billion school-aged children and adolescents. The closure of many schools around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe disruptions to education. An estimated 365 million primary school students went without school meals and significantly increased rates of stress, anxiety and other mental health issues.

Based on a set of eight global standards, the resource package aims to ensure all schools promote life skills, cognitive and socioemotional skills and healthy lifestyles for all learners. These global standards will be piloted in Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Paraguay. The initiative contributes to WHO’s 13th General Program of Work target of ‘1 billion lives made healthier’ by 2023 and the global Education 2030 Agenda coordinated by UNESCO. 

The global standards provide a resource for education systems to help foster health and well-being through stronger governance. UNESCO and WHO will work with governments to enable countries to adapt the package to their specific contexts. The evidence is clear. Comprehensive school health and nutrition programmes in schools have significant impacts among school-aged children.

The Health Promoting Schools approach was first articulated by WHO, UNESCO and UNICEF in 1995 and adopted in over 90 countries and territories. However, few countries have implemented it at scale, and even fewer have effectively adapted their education systems to include health promotion. The new global standards will help countries to integrate health promotion into all schools and boost the health and well-being of their children. 

More information and access to the new resources: