The book (School Health, Nutrition and Education for All) argues that the education of children will greatly improve if the programmes to improve health and nutrition, which have reduced major diseases in poor communities, are replicated across the developing world.
Matthew Jukes, one of the book's authors says:
"By treating or preventing diseases and improving nutrition in schools, we'd go a long way to enabling children in poor countries to achieve their educational potential."
Many of the challenges in providing education to children throughout the poorer countries of the world - such as making sure they have quality learning materials and effective teachers - are complex and costly to address, particularly in poor communities. By contrast, tackling many common health problems is inexpensive and straightforward and has the greatest benefits for the poorest children.
Previous methods of delivering treatments relied on proximity to urban centres, far from the marginalized poor. In contrast, services delivered through schools have a built-in mechanism to ensure sustainability and reach the children who need them most.
At present millions of children in the developing world are missing out on essential schooling or are unable to learn to their full capacity. One half of all school age children have iron deficiency anaemia, one half are stunted due to poor nutrition and one third are infected with worms.
These illnesses, although debilitating, are easily treatable. Treatment is also extremely cost effective -for example it costs less than $0.10 to treat a child for intestinal worms.
Matthew Jukes highlights the difference that effective treatment can make:
"Early childhood malaria prevention in the Gambia led to children staying at school for 1 year longer; de-worming in Kenya increased school attendance by 7%; and iron supplementation in Indonesia improved children's cognitive abilities by the equivalent of 8 IQ points. The evidence is clear that good health and nutrition helps children spend more time at school and learn more effectively while there."
The book gives a compelling case for school health and nutrition programmes as a 'quick win', highly cost effective, pro-poor, sustainable initiative which can have massive global impact. The authors hope to convince readers that school health and nutrition programmes "really are an urgent education policy priority for all poor countries."
The book School health, Nutrition and Education for All is published by CABI on 12th November 2007. To pre-order your copy please contact CABI Customer Services on 44-1491-829400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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