DepEd to train teachers in assessing student health
MANILA, Philippines – With 23 million students and only 600 health personnel in public schools, how will the Department of Education (DepEd) make sure students are fit for school?
DepEd will pilot test this year the Learners' Health Appraisal System, where teachers will assess students' nutritional status, vision, and hearing – the 3 key health concerns that usually affect learning.
“The Learners' Health Appraisal System has to be done by teachers.... In other words, teachers who actually are spending many hours in the classroom will find a way to identify [if the] child seems to have a problem in hearing [or] vision,” Ella Naliponguit, director of DepEd's Health and Nutrition Center, told medical researchers at the Philippine General Hospital on Thursday, January 16.
This comes after the government cut down the number of school health personnel from 4,500 to 600 under the department's rationalization program, Naliponguit said. (READ: DepEd: No mass lay-off under rationalization program)
Aside from teachers, schools will need to tap into the expertise of health practitioners in their community, especially the barangay (village) health workers.
Last year, HEALTHDEV Institute recommended for Health and Nutrition Centers to outsource health personnel from the schools' communities to address school chidren's health and nutrition problems. (READ: Healthdev: 'DepEd fails to keep students fit')
Naliponguit also encouraged researchers to come up with more methods which can easily be adopted by teachers in assessing the health of students.
For example, she challenged the Philippine National Ear Institute (PNEI) to provide DepEd an ideal hearing screening template that can be used by teachers to identify students who might have problems with hearing.
But Dr Teresa Gloria-Cruz of the PNEI said the country has no official and standardized national hearing screening program for school children. Research is still ongoing for an ideal tool that can be used for mass hearing screening that will accurately detect hearing loss among school children.
In a recent study, Cruz said there is an 8% to 24.44% prevalence of hearing loss in school children in the Philippines.
“We will try to do training [among] select teachers using the PNEI method, and we'll see how acceptable it is to teachers because, remember, teachers are very afraid of handling equipment,” Naliponguit said, adding some teachers are even hesitant in handling tuning forks.
DepEd will test the Learners' Health Appraisal System on January 28 in certain schools in Manila. This year, their target is to implement first the system among schools in the National Capital Region. – Rappler.com