Aiming to strengthen school health and nutrition programs, the Department of Education (DepEd), together with the Department of Health (DOH), launched healthy learning institutions in the basic education sector through a ceremony held in Quirino High School, Quezon City, today, October 11, 2022.

Carrying the theme “Pinalakas na Oplan Kalusugan sa DepEd, Pinatatag na Healthy Learning Institutions,” the ceremony gathered Executive Committee leaders of both DepEd and DOH, local government representatives of the host city, and selected school health and nutrition personnel from across the country to highlight the importance of a whole-of-government and whole of society approach to strengthening school health programs. Institutionalized in 2018, Oplan Kalusugan sa DepEd or OK sa DepEd is the convergence of the Department’s health and nutrition initiatives for their effective and efficient implementation at the school level, in partnership with various stakeholders.

“I look forward to receiving the results of your consultative workshop summarizing the issues, concerns, and recommendations from regional school health and nutrition personnel, including the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte noted in her message as read by DepEd Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Epimaco V. Densing III.

Early this year, DepEd established a partnership with the DOH and other national government agencies to strengthen school health under the basic education sector as Healthy Learning Institutions (HLI), through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Legal Education Board (LEB), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2022-0001 titled Guidelines on Healthy Settings Framework in Learning Institutions. Pursuant to Section 30 of Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, the JAO operationalizes the designation of schools as healthy settings, based on standards set by the DOH and DepEd.

The DOH manifested its gratitude for the efforts of the DepEd particularly in prioritizing learners’ health and well-being. The Department also expressed its commitment to support the DepEd in this endeavor.

“Through a whole of government and whole of society approach, the DOH commits to helping DepEd in ensuring learners’ health and well-being through improving access to health care, creating and writing healthy school policies; creating conducive physical and social environments; strengthening links with community on health; and reinforcing health skills and education. We are confident that this innovative strategy of deep cooperation between the sectors of health and education in the national, regional, and local levels will be fruitful in maximizing the positive impact of education in Filipino learners’ development,” said DOH OIC-Undersecretary Dr. Beverly Lorraine C. Ho.

The HLI framework is currently being pilot-tested in 273 last-mile elementary schools in eight provinces and one city. Further, the said program is also intended to be adopted as the framework for OK sa DepEd.

“While the lessons they [students] learn within the classrooms are important for them to reach their potentials as future leaders of tomorrow, it is equally important that they be given the resources and tools that will enable them to maintain their health and care for their general well-being. In doing so, we are already giving them the means to step towards a future that is brighter, safer, and happier,” DepEd Undersecretary Atty. Revsee A. Escobedo stressed.