In Hungary, the holistic health promotion for schools is prescribed by law since 2012 - a holistic, whole school approach where health promotion must be part of the everyday life of the school and with participation of the whole school, parents and the public environment.
Four health promoting tasks
There are four main health promoting tasks for schools in Hungary:
- Healthy eating - potentially based on local food products;
- Daily physical education fulfilling health promotion criteria and other forms of physical activity;
- Use of appropriate pedagogic methods (including also the use of arts) to enhance mental health;
- Improving health literacy and health competencies of the children.
Task number 2: Daily physical education and other forms of physical activity
One of the main health promoting tasks, daily physical education, has gradually been implemented for all school children in Hungary, helped by the medical professionals and by some huge national projects.
To enhance the quality of daily physical education the Hungarian government launched a project in 2013. It was realized through the Hungarian School Sport Federation who produced seven methodological publications to help physical education-teachers in using new methods according to the health promoting criteria of daily physical education. All 3800 Hungarian schools were given these publications, and nearly 8.000 teachers took part in postgraduate courses to practice these new methods. Also, a new national measurement tool for physical education-teachers to monitor physical fitness of schoolchildren from 10 to 18 years are now used in all schools.
An active and united effort
High political commitment and good intersectoral cooperation at governmental level have been of utmost importance to implement the holistic health promotion programme in Hungarian schools. The prime minister himself committed to the case. It has been a long process to reach the present level of focus on healthy schools and a persistent struggle since 1995 of civil medical societies in cooperation with the civil society of physical education teachers has been very important to reach results. It can also be mentioned that the agricultural sector’s work to strengthen social functions of agriculture has been in good interaction with the process of strengthen public health.
There are still improvements to make in the schools. The present challenge is to give better motivation to teachers to change their old-fashioned pedagogic methods; and to give a permanent and organized professional help from the public health institutions and actors – as teachers are in need for it. Also, there is a need for giving more attention to better quality in daily physical education:
- better motivation of children in participating in daily physical education, especially with better methods for girls;
- better internalization of healthy eating;
- better and more effective use of special posture correcting exercises.
More information about Hungarian health promoting schools
Read the article ‘Public Health Sector for Health Promoting Schools in Hungary’
Read about Holistic health promotion (HHP) in Hungarian schools text 1 (scroll down for English text) and text 2.
Read about Daily physical education (DPE) in Hungarian schools.
Contact the Hungarian national SHE-coordinator, Dr. med. Annamária Somhegyi
Written by: Dr. med. Annamária Somhegyi Ph. D.
Director for prevention, National Center for Spinal Disorders, Budapest, Hungary
National coordinator for WHO Schools for Health in Europe (SHE) Network, nominated by the Ministry of Human Capacities, Budapest, Hungary