Simple, SUSTAINABLE, SCALABLE, and systems thinking
The Fit for School (FIT) Approach is based on four core principles: simplicity, sustainability, scalability, and systems thinking. A school health program and its interventions must be based on best possible evidence, should be cost-effective and simplified to facilitate implementation in the school context with little extra effort. To ensure sustainability, long-term allocation of government manpower and financial resources is crucial. A close partnership with the parents and local community is imperative in maximizing ownership and accountability.
Capitalizing existing systems and resources are essential elements for scalability. The approach works through the education sector, especially on sub-national level, in order to establish sustainable programme management and implementation within the local structures. Additional payments and monetary incentives are not part of the approach since this often leads to a collapse of activities as soon as the external funding ends.
Aligned with these principles, the interventions comprise hand washing with soap and tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste as daily group activities; complemented by biannual deworming. Institutionalizing these interventions addresses some of the most prevalent diseases among school children. To provide a healthy environment, schools need functional washing facilities and toilets. These basic school infrastructures are prerequisites for positive hygiene behaviour and address key determinants of health.
Fit for school and school-based management
Recognizing School-based Management (SBM) as an important cornerstone, the FIT Approach builds on the strength of schools as self-managing entities with the leadership and active involvement of education personnel, as well as the close collaboration with the larger school community and parents. Every member of the community can contribute in various important ways to make the program successful including the construction of washing facilities, participation in monitoring or cleaning, repair and maintenance. In this way, even schools with limited resources can implement effective health interventions and improve their infrastructure one step at a time.
Fit for School and Fresh (focusing resources on effective school health)
All aspects of the approach have been developed in line with global school health principles and policies, particularly the Focusing Resources on Effective School Health (FRESH) approach developed by UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank and Education International. The FIT Approach aims to bridge the gap between policy and implementation with practical and tangible implementation guidance. It therefore helps to translate the high-level principles of FRESH and other policy frameworks into action.