By Gabi Khumalo
Cullinan – Education stakeholders have commended government for launching the Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP) and pledged to give their full support to ensure that the programme becomes a success.
Launched on Thursday by President Jacob Zuma, the programme will ensure that learners have access to primary health care services, as well as ensuring the optimal development of children.
General Secretary of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, Henry Hendricks, said the programme would ensure that the neediest learners were reached. He said through the phased-in approach of rolling out the programme, the implementation could be tested and perfected.
“We are also pleased about the wide scope of services that will be provided at the schools as many learners are burdened by conditions, which if detected and treated at an early stage, could easily be brought under control,” Hendricks said.
National Teachers Union (NATU) Executive Director, Allan Thompson, commended President Zuma, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi for their unwavering determination to improve peoples’ lives.
“NATU pledges full support and commitment to ensure that the programme becomes a success and is also extended to the general public by ensuring that schools are used as centres for public health and education, especially to those who are far from the clinics and hospitals,” Thompson said.
Professional Teachers Union’s General Secretary, Ben Machipi, said childhood development was crucial in the formative stages 0-6 years.
“The fact that the programme starts with Early Childhood Development in schools and those that are not in schools, is encouraging,” Machipi said.
Also welcoming the initiative, South African Democratic Teachers Union General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, said through its members at all levels, the union would always be available to offer any form of assistance in terms of the roll-out.
“We want to welcome this initiative, particularly the fact that the most vulnerable of learners in quintile 1 and 2 schools will be targeted,” said Maluleke.
The National Association of School Governing Bodies General Secretary, Matakanye Matakanye, said: “This move demonstrates an improvement in the capacity of the state to deliver services efficiently and effectively by moving more towards an inter-departmental collaborative effort.”
The Secretary General of the National Congress of School Governing Bodies, Monokoane Hlobo, added: “We are happy that this programme will cover the barriers to learning, information and counselling onsite service provision, health promotion and the environmental assessment of schools.”
While noting that the challenge would be putting the plan into action, the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools believed that the programme was a step in the right direction.
The South African Principals’ Association also pledged it support to the programme, noting that school communities and society would become more conscious of matters relating to children’s health and well-being. – SAnews.gov.za