School Health Workers

We train Zambian teachers as a new cadre of community health workers. The following is our strategy for recruiting, training, equipping, managing and motivating teachers to be School Health Workers. 


Five to eight teachers are trained per school school to achieve a student-to-SHW ratio of 300 to 1. We use the following multi-step process to select teachers for the program:


  1. Healthy Learners partners with the local health facility to orient all teachers at a school to the program. Interested teachers are able to put their names forward to be interviewed.

  2. Healthy Learners and the local health facility interview and select teachers to enter the program.

  3. This list is shared with the head teacher for any final comments.

 “The program has allowed me to pursue my passion for health and make an impact in my community.

It has been a dream come true" - Tamara Daka, School Health Worker


Healthy Learners trains teachers through an intensive 10-day course, covering a series of standardized modules on topics such as common childhood illnesses, first aid, counseling, sexual and reproductive health, menstrual hygiene management and mental health. 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.


Trainings are held during the one-month termly holidays within the academic calendar year to avoid disrupting school operations. The training is co-facilitated by Healthy Learners and the local health facility staff.


School Health Workers are able to provide first aid and care for ailments such as diarrhea, upper respiratory infections and acute injuries.  SHWs are provided with a tablet and diagnostic software to facilitate the assessment of sick children. SHWs receive a first-aid kit following the completion of their training, which includes oral rehydration salts, Panadol and milk of magnesium trisilicate, bandages, splints, tape, methylated spirit, GV paint, hydrogen peroxide, thermometer, soap, gloves, and cotton wool. Students requiring more advanced care are referred to the nearby health facility.


Healthy Learners trains the school and health facility administration to provide ongoing mentorship and technical support to the program.


Head and deputy head teachers are trained on how to supervise and support school health activities, while select members of the health facility are trained to provide ongoing mentorship and technical support. Additionally, trained School Health Workers attend monthly  meetings at the health facility, wherein the health facility staff reviews their work and provides additional support and training.

 “The monthly meetings help me get better in my work. The training created a bond. It was like a family." 

- School Health Worker


Many of our SHWs 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 SHW, 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

1)    Monetary:                                    Healthy Learners provides SHWs with a small monthly stipend to support their work

2)    Professional Development:   We align program outputs with Ministry of Education key performance indicators. Program data is shared with the

                                                               district education office and top performing teachers are identified.

3)    Social Capital:                           Training graduates receive uniforms, badges and additional SHW memorabilia.  Teachers have reported improved

                                                               self-esteem and social standing as the result of the training. 

How can teachers find the time to do this?

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 school administrator, School Health Workers are encouraged 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 SHWs available to work on school health at any given point of the day.

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