Healthy Schools National Accreditation project has been conducted since 2008 with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Education (MOE). The accreditation project aims to create health promoting environments within Jordanian schools that reflect positively on student’s physical and social growing, as well as on their academic performance. The project is carried through national health standards that participating schools are trained and supervised to implement successfully.
Yara Musleh , Healthy Schools Project Manager, said that the project gives the participating schools an opportunity to work on 10 chapters throughout the academic year for three years , and to be evaluated based on the achievements accomplished by implementing the healthy standards to develop and maintain a healthy setting for living, learning, and working. The ten chapters are : management and leadership, safe school environment, healthy school environment, clean school environment, health education, community and staff participation, health services, social and psychological support, physical activity, and diet.
Musleh added that 66 schools from all directorates, including 40 schools participating in the Madrasati initiative, joined the project in 2008/2009, whereby 32 schools were accredited as Healthy Schools. During the 2009/2010 academic year, 65 schools participated in the project, whereby 49 schools were accredited as healthy schools, Furthermore, during the 2010/2011 academic year 68 schools participated in the project, 20 of which are schools participating in the Madrasati initiative, whereby 48 schools were accredited as healthy schools: 6 schools from the gold level (the schools which participated for three years in a row), and 26 schools from the silver level (the schools which participated for two years in a row), and 16 schools from the bronze schools (the schools which participated for the first year). Currently 91 schools are participating in the project for 2011/2012 academic year.
Maan secondary school, one of the gold level winners, principal Sahar Kreshan, said that the school’s experience with the project started back in 2008, when Maan Directorate representative nominated the school to take part in the project activities Before joining the project, and although we always seek to provide the students with a healthy environment, we faced some difficulties in setting healthy standards, Kreshan explained. That is what pushed us to participate in the project, despite the many challenges that we expected to face such as fixing the school’s infrastructure and the lack of financial support. Nevertheless, we believe in positive change and in spreading healthy behaviors and practices within the school and the surrounding communities, and we took the first step by joining the project.
Kreshan continued to say that the most challenging aspect was the students’ dietary habits, which led us to focus more on the canteen whereby we began offering nutritional & healthy snacks for the students without fretting over financial profits. We also stopped selling unhealthy products such as chips, and soda drinks. At first the students tended to bring these products from outside the school, but after attending a number of awareness lectures regarding nutrition, and hearing about the harms of some products on the school’s morning radio, the demand decreased noticeably. The canteen gradually started to look healthier and cleaner, we provided the vendors with gloves, and special clothes, the profits started to increase after adopting these selling policies.
Kreshan added that the school has recently launched a special unit for diabetes which aims to enhance the local community’s involvement in raising health awareness. This initiative was launched in cooperation with Queen Rania Hospital, and the nursing faculty in Maan to offer the latest medical services to diabetic patients, and to conduct lectures about diabetes and its complications.