SCHOOL HEALTH WORKERS
Training teachers as School Health Workers.
By training, equipping, managing, and motivating teachers to be School Health Workers, we can more proactively and effectively prevent and treat illness in school-aged children.
We train 5-8 teachers per school to achieve a student-to-School Health Worker ratio of 300 to 1.
Healthy Learners partners with the local health facility to identify and interview interested teachers.
This list is shared with the head teacher for any final comments and selection.
Healthy Learners trains teachers through an intensive 2-week course, covering a series of standardized modules on topics such as common childhood illnesses, first aid and counseling.
Through the training, teachers learn how to establish systems for monitoring student health, and they learn how to identify, screen, counsel, and provide basic care and/or referral for children.
School Health Workers are provided with a tablet and diagnostic software to facilitate the assessment of sick children.
The School Health Workers also receive a first aid kit following the completion of their training and are able to provide first aid and care for ailments such as diarrhea, upper respiratory infections, and acute injuries. Students requiring more advanced care are referred to nearby health facilities.
Healthy Learners leverages technology and trains the school administration and health facility staff to monitor the program and provide ongoing mentorship and support.
Data is used to generate automated reports and trigger specific recommendations for schools and teachers. School Health Workers attend monthly mentorship meetings, wherein the health facility staff reviews their reports and provides additional support and training.
Many of our School Health Workers once dreamed of becoming nurses or doctors but ended up in education. This program enables them, at least in part, to live out their dreams. They commonly cite the additional social status gained from being a School Health Worker, along with the skills they gain, as what motivates them most. Our teachers receive a combination of incentives to motivate their work as School Health Workers:
Monetary: Healthy Learners provides School Health Workers with a small monthly stipend to support their work
Professional development: We align program outputs with the Ministry of Education’s key performance indicators. Program data is shared with the district education office and top-performing teachers are identified.
Social capital: Training graduates receive uniforms, badges, and additional School Health Worker gear. Teachers have reported improved self-esteem and social standing as a result of the training.
How teachers manage this dual role
School teachers in Zambia often only spend half of their day teaching in the classroom, while their remaining time can be used for planning and additional responsibilities as assigned by the school administration.
The concept of specialization is common at schools, as teachers often take on different roles outside of the classroom (e.g. guidance counselor, coach, or maintenance). At the direction of the Ministry of Education and the school's administration, School Health Workers are mandated to spend their time outside of the classroom working on school health activities. The school administrator schedules faculty to ensure that there are always at least two School Health Workers available to work on school health at any given point of the day.
Teachers creating an impact
Because we work with the government, leverage existing infrastructure and recruit community members, our success is much greater than if we were working from the outside in.