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

School Health Promotion

Education is a key determinant for health and well-being of children and young people, and their health conditions affect their educational achievements. 80% of all health determinants are related to a healthy lifestyle. The prevention of non-communicable diseases can effectively be addressed by promoting a healthy lifestyle, starting at an early age.

Children spend most of their daytime in schools. Therefore schools are an excellent setting to reach children and young people. However the primary focus of schools in on educational outcomes and there is often a low priority for health promotion. At the end of the last century the ‘health promoting school’ concept emerged.

Whole school approach

A health promoting school pays attention in a structured and systematic way to the health and well-being of pupils and of school-staff as part of the school plan. Implementing a health promoting school approach in a school can never be done without taking into account it’s context. The whole school approach (WSA) acknowledges that health is influenced by the social, political, economic and demographic context of the school. The WSA consist of six core components:

  • Healthy school policies
  • School physical environment
  • School social environment
  • Individual health skills and action competencies
  • Community links.

Making every school a health promoting school

UNESCO and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched a joint initiative “Making Every School a Health-Promoting School (HPS)”. They have developed the Global Standards and Indicators for Health Promoting Schools. Read more.

European Standards and Indicators

The Schools for Health in Europe Network Foundation has developed the “European Health Promoting Schools Standards & Indicators”. They are a tool for improving the education, health, and well-being of children and young people, and future generations. They point in the right direction and best practices and goals, according to what has been commonly agreed among experts in the field. Read more.

Schools, a foundation for healthy lives

In the viewpoint paper “Supporting every school to become a foundation for healthy lives” published in the “Lancet Child and Adolescent Health” the analysis of the determinants of the implementation of a health policy by schools is described as well as a proposed model. Read more.

Webinars on School Health Promotion

The UNESCO Chair together with its partners has organised several webinars related to School Health Promotion: