UNESCO Chair Global Health and Education Health Education, Prevention, Health Promotion, Children and Young People

25 April 2023 – Connecting health and education to unleash learners’ potential: The state of school health and nutrition around the world


Christopher Castle has more than 30 years of development experience in the areas of education and health, working at UNESCO since 2004. After holding a position at UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning, he transferred to UNESCO Headquarters where he served as Chief of the Section of Health and Education until November 2022, before taking on his current role as Director of the Division for Peace and Sustainable Development. Mr Castle holds a BS in International Studies and French from The American University, and an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

Dr. Yinghua Ma is Professor of the Institute of Child and Adolescent Health at Peking University, China, since 1999, and UNESCO Chair for Global Health and Education since 2022. Her research focuses on child and adolescent growth and development, life skills education, and school health promotion, serving a leadership role for various profession societies in China, including such as Chairperson of the School Branch of the China Association of Health Promotion and Health,Chairperson of the School Health Branch of the Chinese Association for Student Nutrition and Health Promotion, Vice Chairperson of the School Health Branch of China Preventive Medicine, and Vice President of the Physical and Health Education Branch of the Chinese Society of Education. She also served as Deputy Director of the China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has received numerous awards and honors for her contributions to child and adolescent health research and education.

Dr. Adesola Olumide is a Researcher and Consultant Community Physician at the Institute of Child Health (ICH), University of Ibadan and University College Hospital, Nigeria. She is the International Association of Adolescent Health (IAAH) Vice President (2022-2025) for the Sub-Sahara Africa Region. Adesola coordinated the Adolescent Health component of the MPH programme in Child and Adolescent Health (CAH) run by ICH from 2008 to 2017. From 2014 to 2017, she coordinated the ICH Infant Welfare/ Well-child, and was Acting Director of the Institute from 2017 – 2019. Over the course of her career, Adesola has served as investigator on a number of projects. Currently, she is the Director of the College of Medicine, Research and Innovation Management (CRIM) unit. She is also the current Secretary General for the Society for Adolescent and Young People’s Health in Nigeria (SAYPHIN). She has a keen interest in mentoring of junior colleagues and her research interests have expanded to include utilization of research findings to develop and implement evidence-based interventions to address problems of adolescents and young people.

Prof. Donald Bundy is Professor of Epidemiology and Development at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He is the Director of the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition and Senior Advisor to the World Food Programme, leading a global research effort to provide evidence-based guidance to the 75 member states of the School Meals Coalition on improving their national school meals and complementary health programmes. Prior to joining LSHTM, Professor Bundy served sequentially as Senior Advisor to the Global Health Team of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Seattle); lead education and health specialist to the World Bank Human Development policy unit and Africa Region (Washington DC); and Professor and Deputy Director at the Epidemiology Centre, University of Oxford (Oxford, UK).


Nicola Gray, Co-chair holder UNESCO Chair on Global Health & Education, Senior Lecturer, University of Huddersfield, UK


Nearly every country around the world is investing in their school-age children and adolescents through school health and nutrition. Good health and nutrition during school years are a prerequisite for children and adolescents to learn and grow, and a crucial investment for more prosperous and inclusive futures.

A joint report, Ready to Learn and Thrive: School Health and Nutrition around the World, developed by UNESCO, UNICEF, WFP, FAO, GPE and WHO, with support from the Research Consortium for School health and Nutrition, UN-Nutrition Secretariat and World Bank, consolidates multiple data sources and case studies to inform advocacy and quality programmes. It encourages efforts to improve, scale up, sustain and monitor progress to address learners’ needs holistically.

The event will highlight the transformative impact of school health and nutrition for learners. Presentations will showcase country good practices and the importance of diverse stakeholders in efforts to ensure that all children and adolescents can learn and thrive.

Our speakers’contributions

In this webinar the following questions were addressed:

What is the status of school health and nutrition policies and programmes around the world, and what are the main take aways from your research?

China has extensive experience with school health and nutrition. How are the health and education sectors working together in China to implement an integrated approach to school health at scale and monitor progress?

What is your experience with the implementation of school health and nutrition in schools in Nigeria?

How can the research community help fill evidence gaps and advance more effective approaches to school health and nutrition?

One of the key messages in the report is that SHN programmes promote inclusion and equity, with a warning that more must be done to reach those who are missing out. What do you think is one important step that decision makers can take to reach a group that you know are ‘missing out’?

Full video of the webinar

Participants’ contributions

How can we incentivise scale-up of comprehensive School Health and Nutrition programmes across the globe?

Where do you think we need more research about school health and nutrition programmes?


UNESCO, UNICEF, WFP, 2023. Ready to learn and thrive: School health and nutrition around the world. Paris: UNESCO, UNICEF, WFP.

UNESCO, UNICEF, WFP, 2022. Ready to learn and thrive: school health and nutrition around the world; highlights. Paris: UNESCO, UNICEF, WFP. Available in English, French and Spanish.

Gray N J, Desmond N A, Ganapathee D S, Beadle S, Bundy D A. Breaking down silos between health and education to improve adolescent wellbeing  BMJ 2022; 379: e067683 doi:10.1136/bmj-2021-067683

WHO guideline on school health services. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO

Making every school a health-promoting school: implementation guidance. Geneva: World Health Organization and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; 2021. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

Introduction video on the report “Ready to learn and thrive: School health and nutrition around the world: