In the developed world, school health programmes were evolved during the post-Second World War period to address nutritional and physical fitness aspects, particularly of lower-middle and working-class children, but in the developing countries this area remained largely neglected. In an effort to examine the patterns of the levels of malnutrition, minor and major illnesses and their relationship with socio-economic status and to study the different components of the school health programme and how it functions in different contexts, articles on various aspects of school health in India have been compiled to form this book.
Why was school health considered an integral part of education in developed countries? Evidence suggests that nutritional status determined the school performance and intelligence of children. What is significant about health of school children in developing countries is that it is seen for itself per se but not in terms of retention, competition and learning. While the contribution of education to health has gained recognition, the reciprocal relationship of health to education and its outcomes have not been adequately explored.
In a highly stratified society, there are real concerns about the social groups that are excluded, namely the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, sections of the other backward castes and Muslims. Micro studies show that there is a variation in evolvement patterns across economic categories within each of these groups. They show that work, migration, household work, availability, accessibility and responsiveness of schools determine evolution, regularity, retention and completion of schooling. The picture of health status mirrors the trends in education. A substantial population of children in the age group of zero to six and six to 14 years are malnourished and suffer from anaemia which as we all know is a symptom of chronic hunger.
The editor of the book in her papers presents an assessment of the extent of malnutrition among children. She states that nutritional morbidity and mortality patterns are related to poverty and if disaggregated across socio-economic groups, then children belonging to the lower and working classes suffer from under-nutrition and diseases of poverty while those belonging to the upper-middle class suffer from over-nutrition and diseases of affluence.
Many of the challenges of building a comprehensive approach and suggestions to overcome them have been addressed in the paper on ?Health and Physical Education? and certain policy recommendations have been suggested to make this area more comprehensive.
This is a subject-specific book which will cater to the needs of a limited readership.
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