ARC launches HEAL School Challenge in partnership with Ministry of Education and PSM


Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC), in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Public Service Media (PSM), has today launched the HEAL School Challenge at an event held to celebrate World Health Day 2016. Aimed at improving the nutritional status of students in all schools throughout the Maldives, this initiative is a certification scheme designed to recognize achievements in nutrition and physical activity and to promote healthier school environments.

The School Health Screening results conducted in 2015, for all Grade 1 students of Male’ region showed that only 40% of the children are in the healthy weight range (22% of children were overweight and 38% of children were underweight). Based on these results, ARC is concerned that the Maldives is under a nutritional transition and could be slowly facing the problem of both under-nutrition, as well as over-nutrition. ARC therefore hopes that the HEAL School Challenge will provide opportunities to implement strategies at the school level to promote nutrition and physical education in and outside the classroom.

The HEAL School Challenge launched today at the PSM Senaco Hall by Chief Guest, Dr. Abdulla Nazeer, State Minister of Education, is an expansion of ARC’s HEAL Campaign that promotes Healthy Eating and Active Lifestyles for children. Speaking at the event, ARC’s Executive Director Zenysha Zaki highlighted that the lifestyle choices children make today count towards healthier lives for them tomorrow. She also expressed the important role played by schools in creating a conducive environment for establishing a culture that values good health and nutrition among students and staff.

Participation in the HEAL School Challenge is voluntary and is open for all schools throughout the Maldives. At today’s event, nine schools in Male’ area participated in programme, including Galolhu Madharusa, Bridge Little Learners, Maafannu Madharusa, Living Values Education Preschool, Ameer Ahmed Preschool, Kangaroo Kids, Iskandharu School, Aminiya School and Billabong High. These schools were presented with certificates of participation and a booklet which includes the criteria for three levels of participation. Schools are required to complete the checklist under the respective category of participation and send photo evidence and supporting documents of their progress to ARC, twice a year. Schools that meet the set criteria during the year of participation will be presented with bronze, silver or gold awards, depending on their level of achievement.

The HEAL School Challenge is the first collaboration between ARC and PSM since they joined ARC’s Corporate Ambassadorship Programme as a Champion of Child Rights earlier this year. ARC therefore takes this opportunity to thank PSM for their support and commitment to help improve the quality of life of children in the Maldives. ARC also greatly appreciates the support extended by the Ministry of Education and notes that this will be crucial in making the HEAL School Challenge a success.