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Sharjah: Schools in Sharjah will be expected to meet international health and safety standards, which will be evaluated and rated, officials announced on Monday.

The first phase of the three-year ‘Healthy Schools’ programme, which comes under the ‘Health Promoting Schools’ initiative of World Health Organisation (WHO), was launched on Monday.

An official told Gulf News the programme is voluntary right now but may become mandatory in the future. School representatives will continue to attend workshops to learn about the project and how to implement the standards.

WHO standards

The standards cover nutrition, mental health, physical activity, security and safety, emergency and crisis response, prevention of infectious diseases and their spread, environmental sustainability, and other points.

The schools will be evaluated and classified as Gold, Silver and Bronze, depending on how well they meet the standards, Shatha Omar, a dietician at the Health Promotion Department at the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA) in Sharjah, told Gulf News on the sidelines of the event.

Covering all students

Omar told Gulf News: “In the first phase, the programme might be voluntary – whether a school will be getting involved in the programme – but then we will see if it should be [mandatory] to all the schools.”

She added that schools that meet 80 per cent of the standards will achieve a Gold rating, Silver for 70 per cent, and Bronze for 60 per cent.

The programme, launched by the Health Promotion Department, will be carried out at 227 public and private schools and 26 public nurseries across the emirate of Sharjah. It is targeting around 185,000 students.

‘Healthy Schools’ is being held under the patronage of Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of SCFA.

Iman Rashid Saif, director of the Health Promotion Department, said: “Healthy Schools clearly reflects the great attention of the wise leadership to children’s health as they are the hope for the future. I would like to thank [Shaikha Jawaher] for her great support and follow up, as well as Her Highness’s directives to pay particular attention to the health of children and adolescents, as they are the best investment in the future. Such directives were the main motive to adopt the WHO’s programme, ‘Health Promoting Schools’.”

Healthy City

What will school evaluators check?

Nutrition, mental health, physical activity, security and safety, emergency and crisis response, prevention of infectious diseases and their spread, environmental sustainability, school buildings, condition of surrounding environment, implementation of no-smoking policy, obesity rates