Pupils' health practices and the health education curriculum in primary schools in Miriga Mieru west division, Meru central district Kenya
Kinoti, Caroline Nkatha
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Health Education has been defined as any intentional activity that is designed to achieve health or illness related learning as reflected by some relatively permanent change in an individual's capacity or disposition. Similarly, a curriculum is a plan for action or a written document that includes strategies for achieving desired goals or ends. Health Education is taught in the Kenyan Primary School system in Science form standard one to eight and in Home Science from standard four to eight as a major unit. It is also taught as a component of other primary school subjects such as Agriculture and Physical Education. Health Education covers a wide range of topics including; personal hygiene, environmental sanitation, safety, nutrition, first aid, health hazards, health facilities, common ailments, poisonous substances, medicines and drugs. There is no recorded information indicating that what pupils are taught in school in Health Education classes translates to the desired health practices at school, home and in the community. This study sought to establish the relationship between what was taught in the primary school Health Education curriculum and the pupils' health practices. A cross sectional study was carried out in Miriga Mieru West Division of Meru Central District among the urban, peri-urban and rural community. The sample population comprised Standard Two, Five, Seven pupils, and the teachers in the sampled schools who taught Science, Home Science, Agriculture and Physical Education. Data was collected using pre-tested questionnaires, interviews and observational checklists and analyzed using Chi-square tests. Percentages, frequencies and means were used for data presentation. Results indicate that 85% (115/135) of pupils in standard 2 acknowledged having learnt different aspects of Health Education as are stipulated in the curriculum but only 41.1% (56/135) practiced them. This was statistically significant (c2=1.599, df=1, p=0.379). However, there was no significant difference between pupils in standard 5 and 7 who practiced what they were taught in Health Education (c2=0.298, df=1, p=0.585). There was a statistical difference between the location of school and pupils health practices (c2=4.542, df=1, p=0.103). This was because more pupils in the urban schools practiced what they had learnt in Health Education than their rural counterparts. Also, there was a significant difference between boys and girls who carried out health practices (c2=2.381, df=1, p=0.123) with more girls than boys practicing what they had learnt. All the teachers interviewed (n=30) taught aspects of Health Education and agreed that it's teaching enhanced the pupils' health practices. However, only 16% (5/30) of the teachers said that pupils practiced what they were taught. The results of the study could be useful to Health Education curriculum developers and other relevant stakeholders in monitoring, evaluation and in future designs of Health Education curriculums to ensure that their objectives are met.
- MST-Zoological Sciences