13th June, 2020 TONGAN The health status of our school children is a significant matter for the Ministry of Education and Training (MET). ‘Api ako Ma’a Lahi is a national project, funded by the Japanese Government, in partnership with MET, WHO and the Ministry of Health (MOH).
MET plays a vital role in the implementation of the project in 20 government and non-government schools’ 15 primary and 5 secondary schools. The aim of the project is to empower school children and to encourage them to change their behaviour and attitude about health at an early age and to continue to do so throughout their lives.
For HPS or ‘Apiako Ma’a Lahi, there are 3 priority areas: Diet and Physical Activity (DPA), Well-Being (WB) and Water, and Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The intended impact of the project is to have improved school environments and to develop the capacity of schools to support healthier lifestyles of their students. A School-Based Assessment and Monitoring (SBAM) Tool is used to monitor and assess levels of achievement in the three priority areas above and at three approved levels, namely Bronze, Silver and Gold. Earlier this year, representatives from the 20 schools participated in the HPS Planning and Up-skilling workshops. The intention is to provide Principals, Focal Points and PTA representatives with the relevant resources and skills to enable them to plan for effective interventions.
In the last two months, the 20 HPS received a variety of resources including sports equipment, water tanks, toilet sets, rubbish bins and vegetable seedlings. The schools are working closely with their local communities to implement their HPS Action plans.
GPS Tokomololo is an exemplar HPS. Tonga High School had started their intervention plan, one of which is to encourage neighbouring canteen owners to provide healthy food and snacks for students.
MET values this partnership with MOH’s HPS team, PTA and stakeholders. The schools are well-resourced to maintain a healthier school environment as well as developing their capacity to support healthier lifestyles among school children.