Kids' weight, mental-health issues still priorities

PHOTO: Kids' weight, mental-health issues still priorities

Obesity and mental-health issues among schoolchildren continue to be the focus of initiatives to promote an all-rounded education system here.

And efforts by the Ministry of Education (MOE), such as increasing physical-education (PE) curriculum time to keep obesity rates low, have been effective, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Hawazi Daipi.

For instance, 10.9 per cent of schoolchildren here are overweight, compared to about 23 per cent for the rest of South- east Asia, he noted.

Mr Hawazi was speaking yesterday at the 3rd Educating For Health Conference held at Republic Polytechnic, which was attended by over 900 teachers, parents and health-care professionals.

He added that not only do overweight children have a higher propensity for chronic health problems, but they are also generally more likely to experience a lower quality of life physically, emotionally and socially.

These aspects are "critical in contributing to the total well-being of our children", he stressed.

Currently, MOE has several programmes that seek to ensure the mental health of both teachers and students.

Preschoolers will also have an early start on mental wellness with a giant storybook entitled Colin Cool Goes To School.

It was released to all preschools last month and aims to mentally prepare children for entering Primary 1.

"MOE will...focus on promoting mental wellness at an early age to ensure our children have the skills to go through different life stages," he said.

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