Overthe decades, educating people about health has been an important strategy for preventingillness and injury. Ensuring that children are healthy and able to learn is anessential part of an effective education system. As many studies show,education and health are inseparable. Gradually, educational approaches haveturned more to skill development and address all aspects of health, includingphysical, social, emotional, and mental well-being. Educating children andadolescents can instill positive health behaviours in the early years and preventrisk and premature death where adolescence has become the victim of varioushealth risk behaviour like drugs abuse, alcohol abuse suicide etc. Drug and substance abuse is a seriousproblem adversely affecting the social fabric of the country. Addiction todrugs not only affects the individual’s health but also disrupts their familiesand the whole society. Regular consumption of various psychoactive substancesleads to drug dependence of the individual.
Some drug compounds may lead toneuropsychiatric disorders and other diseases such as cardiovascular diseases,as well as accidents, suicides and violence. The highlycompetitive world of today and the absence of traditional norms and supporthave heightened the stress among adolescents resulting in multiple mentalhealth issues such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, rejection, diffidence,anger, confliction in interpersonal relationship and failure (Smith et al.2004), falling to the prey of Drug abuse, alcohol abuse andcriminal behaviour among the adolescents.
Life skills based health education isvery significant in preventing these kinds of health risk behaviour. Variousagencies like UNICEF, WHO, the WorldBank and UNFPA have worked together to encourage more schools andcommunities across the globe to use skills-based health education, includinglife skills, as the method for improving health and education. Together, theseagencies are dedicated to fostering effective school health programmes thatimplement skills-based health education along with school health policies, a healthyand supportive environment, and health services together in all schools.Over the past twenty years, “lifeskills” have become part of the vocabulary in health education and theprevention of health risk behaviour among adolescence. Life skills educationemerged from a growing concern about certain health problems with particularimpact on young people, including HIV/AIDS, sexual behavior, drugs, alcohol,peer influence, and youth suicide. However life skills education has beentaught with various underlying reasons such as, in Zimbabwe and Thailand theimpetus for initiating life skills education was the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
InMexico, it was the prevention of adolescent pregnancy. In the United Kingdom,an important life skills initiative was set up to contribute to child abuseprevention, and in the USA there are numerous life skills programmes for theprevention of substance abuse and violence. In South Africa and Colombia animportant stimulus for life skills education has been the desire to create acurriculum for education for life, called “Life Orientation” education in SouthAfrica and “Integral Education” in Colombia. In short life skills education canbe used in different aspects and in different situation whenever and whereverrequired. Conceptual Background:Life skills:Life skills have been defined as “theabilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to dealeffectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life” (WHO, 1993). ‘Adaptive’ means that a person isflexible in approach and is able to adjust in different circumstances. ‘Positive behavior’ implies that aperson is forward looking and even in difficult situations, can find a ray ofhope and opportunities to find solutions.According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)Life-Skills education refers to “a behaviour change or behaviour developmentapproach designed to address balance of three areas: knowledge, attitude andskills”.
The UNICEF definition is basedon research evidence that suggests that shifts in risk behaviour are unlikelyif knowledge, attitudinal and skill based competencies are not addressed.Life skills are abilities for adaptiveand positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with thedemands and challenges of everyday life. In particular, life skills are a groupof psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people makeinformed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively,communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathize with others,and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner. There are many suchskills, but core life skills lay down by WHO include:1.
Self-awareness 2.Empathy3.Critical thinking 4.Creative thinking5.Decision making 6.
Problem Solving7.Effective communication 8.Interpersonal relationship9.Coping with stress 10.Coping with emotion Life-Skills Based Education (LSBE) has a long history ofsupporting child development and health promotion. In 1986, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotionrecognized Life-Skills in terms of making better health choices.
The 1989 Convention on the Rights ofthe Child (CRC) linked Life Skills to education by stating thateducation should be directed towards the development of the child’s fullest potential. The 1990 Jomtien Declaration on ‘Education for All’ took this vision further andincluded Life-Skills among essential learning tools for survival, capacitydevelopment and quality of life. Ina meeting held in Senegal, Darkar 2000, the Darker Framework of Action (2000)referred life skills in goal 3 ensuring that the learning needs of all youngservices; policies and codes of conduct that enhance physical, psychosocial,and emotional health of teachers and learners; and education content andpractices that lead to the knowledge, attitudes, values and life skills. Studentsneed to develop and maintain self-esteem, good health, and personal safety. Thesupporting agencies, UNICEF, WHO, theWorld Bank and UNFPA, and their partners Focusing Resources on EffectiveSchool Health (FRESH) agreed that skills-based health education is an essentialcomponent of a cost-effective school health programme. Life-Skills BasedEducation is now recognized as a methodology to address a variety of issues of child and youth development and thematic responses including asexpressed in UNGASS on HIV/AIDS (2001), UNGASS on Children (2002), World YouthReport (2003), World Program of Human Rights Education (2004),