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Perceptions of School Health in Selected Primary Schools in Trinidad and Tobago
George Gowrie, Mala Ramdass, Cheryl Bowrin
The state of health of primary schools in Trinidad and Tobago has been described as 'organizational pathologies' with poor motivation of teachers, student indiscipline, low levels of academic achievement, teacher and student violence and absenteeism (White Paper, 1993-2003). Indeed, the Strategic Plan (2002-2006) of the Ministry of Education has noted an alarming increase of crime and violence in our schools that is having an adverse effect on positive learning and teaching (GOTT 2002).

So critical was the situation that the Ministry of Education commissioned a study in 2002 on delinquency in schools to make recommendations to improve the overall health of our schools. This Deosaran Study on delinquency in our schools identified an alarming increase in student delinquent behavior in schools - bullying, truancy, verbal abuse, fighting, disrespect for teachers, among others (Deosaran 2004).

The Ministry of Education has also taken some initiatives to improve the health and safety of our schools. Some of these are: school feeding programs; student support services; peace promotion programs; empowerment of student councils; improved home - school linkages; more involvement of NGO's in promoting school health practices.

At the global level the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a world wide school health initiative to assist schools, community, parents and students to find appropriate and unique ways to become 'health promoting schools'. These schools displayed the following characteristics: a safe and healthy environment, both
physical and psychosocial; an effective skills-based education; access to health services; school policies and practices that support health; improvement of the health of the community.
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