Angry Doctor

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tough Club

There are a few select words that can always make angry doc cringe when he reads them, and 'holistic' is one of them. Hence his attention was drawn to this piece of news; surely, he asked himself, teachers aren't going to start teaching students how to balance their 'qi' in school, are they?

TAF programme evolves into "Holistic Health Framework" for students

SINGAPORE : The Trim and Fit (TAF) programme in schools is moving on.

The programme has been credited for making a vast improvement in the physical fitness level of students here.

Implemented 15 years ago, the TAF programme has evolved into what is called the "Holistic Health Framework".

According to the Education Ministry, the new framework will take into account the total well-being of each and every student.

The TAF Programme has been successful since it was implemented in 1992.

But being healthy is not just about being physically fit.

And that is why the new "Holistic Health Framework" will look at a student's physical, mental and social health.

The Education Ministry hopes that this new approach will motivate students to continue with a healthy lifestyle, even after leaving school.

So schools will be given time to develop the different aspects of this new push.

Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Education, said, "MOE will work closely with schools to help them set (in place) their processes for (the) total health of our students... over the next three to four years.

"This period of about three years will provide schools time as we recognise that each school is at a different stage of progress and level of readiness in the area of health promotion. We will want to see every school come on board the 'Holistic Health Framework' by 2010."

Mr Masagos was speaking at the annual TAF Award Ceremony, which recognises schools for their efforts and their achievements in keeping their students trim and fit.

And from next year, to match the new programme that will replace TAF, schools will receive a different award for their health promotion efforts.

The Health and Promotion Board and the Education Ministry will be jointly giving out the "Championing Efforts Resulting in Improved School Health" or CHERISH award.

Meanwhile, to recognise the efforts of Junior Colleges and Centralised Institutes in promoting physical fitness, the final year students from these institutions received the Mindef Physical Fitness Awards (MPFPA).

From the offical press release, angry doc learns that:

"The thrust of HHF [Holistic Health Framework] is the total well-being of each student. In line with this, schools’ health promotion efforts will now include physical, mental and social health. Opportunities will be given to students to develop the skills and attitudes to live healthily and sustain a healthy lifestyle even after they leave school."

How do schools do that? Well, according to this earlier press release (emphasis mine):

"Schools adopting the HHF are distinguished by the following key components:

Supportive School Culture and Organisation

A supportive school culture and organisation is demonstrated by having a shared vision on health which culminates in an action plan for effective delivery and resource building.

Comprehensive and Relevant Formal and Non-Formal Curricula

A comprehensive and relevant formal and non-formal curricula is [sic] the main vehicle in the delivery of holistic health.

Synergistic Collaborations and Partnerships

Synergistic collaborations and partnerships with stakeholders supporting schools’ health promoting efforts through the sharing of expertise and resources."

Good grief. It used to be we just gave schools money for picking out the fat kids and making them run laps after school, which was fine by angry doc, because fat kids creep him out.

angry doc is quite sure the Ministry has good intentions, but the terms of reference are really vague. Who will define the standards of 'physical, mental and social health'? Will schools actively find cases? What are the local, institutional, and community resources available?

The most important question is: how will it impact the children?

As it is angry doc has seen children so distressed by being included in the 'TAF club' that their parents tried to obtain a medical reason for them to be exempted from it - it was one thing to be teased by your classmates for being fat, and another altogether to be labelled so by the school. Will children now be included in a 'HHF club' for not meeting the required standards of 'physical, mental and social health'? I hope not.



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