In 2014, the Nelson Mandela University, together with the Department of Sport, Exercise and Health from the University of Basel, Switzerland and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, collaborated in the ‘Disease, Activity and Schoolchildren’s Health’ (DASH) project.
The objective of DASH was to explore the implementation of a multi-fold school-based intervention aimed at the improvement of the health and well-being of schoolchildren living in disadvantaged communities of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and objectively assessed physical activity (PA) seem to be closely linked with a composite measure of children’s cardiovascular risk. Given that 4 out of 10 South African schoolchildren do not meet international PA recommendations, efforts should be made to ensure that a physically active lifestyle is seen as an important educational goal.
Important research findings and a toolkit emanated from the project.
The multi-fold intervention was applied over two 10-week blocks and comprised of four elements:
- Weekly physical activity and dancing-to-music lessons
- Health and hygiene education lessons
- Nutritional supplementation
The KaziBantu programme is an expansion of the DASH project.
It encompasses specifically tailored school-based intervention programmes, focusing on physical activity and fitness, diet and nutrition as well as health, hygiene and psychosocial wellbeing. The KaziBantu programme promotes a healthy, active lifestyle in schoolchildren as well as teachers.
Two toolkits have been developed to contribute to the health of learners and teachers.
KaziKidz: A holistic educational and instruction tool aimed to enhance schoolchildren’s overall health.
Complementing the KaziBantu programme, KaziPlay playground and sanitation intervention creates a health promoting school environment.
Way forward: Our aim is to disseminate the KaziBantu programme, initially to 300 quintile 3 primary schools in the Eastern Cape and then to distribute it nationally. This would be done through short learning programmes and workshops for teachers. To foster long-term cooperation, a memorandum of understanding between the Eastern Cape Department of Education and Nelson Mandela University was signed.
To formalise the agreement regarding the presentation of Short- Learning Programmes within the in-service training programme for teachers in the subject Life Skills (i.e. the KaziKidz component of the KaziBantu Programme) and the promotion and enhancement of the teacher’s own health (i.e. KaziHealth component of the KaziBantu Programme). If opportunities for collaboration arise in other areas of common interest, these can also be explored with the support of the Swiss Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, and benefit learners and wider school communities in other regions of Southern Africa.