|WHO Information Series on School Health - Document 5 - Tobacco Use Prevention: An Important Entry Point for the Development of Health-promoting Schools (UNESCO - WHO, 1999, 52 p.)|
Teachers and other school staff are intermediaries who can address tobacco use prevention with young people in powerful ways. They are in daily contact with students and provide means and facilities to structure fragmented knowledge in a systematic way. Teachers provide a structured way of learning that helps students acquire necessary knowledge, attitudes and skills to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Tobacco use interventions can only be effective if teachers are actively involved in developing and implementing such interventions.
In all communities, the training of teachers should be of highest priority because teachers provide the information to students and serve as role models for their students. In addition, teachers traditionally play an influential role in their communities. Their own behaviours and actions can promote positive attitudes outside the classroom. Thus, it is important to train teachers and other school personnel to implement tobacco use interventions, and, if necessary, offer them a tobacco use cessation programme so they can set a healthy example as non-tobacco users.
Adequate curriculum implementation and overall programme effectiveness are enhanced when teachers are trained to deliver the programme as planned. Teachers need to be trained to recognize the importance of carefully and completely implementing the selected programme, and become familiar with its underlying theory and conceptual framework. Training should include a review of the programme content and a chance to practice programme activities once they are modelled by skilled trainers.
Training for teachers and other school personnel should involve:
· a rationale for implementing tobacco use prevention and reduction interventions in schools
· allocation of authority, personnel, time and resources to a staff member who will be responsible for initiating, managing and coordinating training
· regularly scheduled follow-up sessions that provide updates about the status of tobacco use and progress in reducing and preventing the initiation of tobacco use
· the development of a core training group who will enable all relevant teachers and school personnel to receive training in a timely manner
· an evaluation to determine how confident teachers and other school personnel feel about preventing and reducing tobacco use
Because health education involves influencing attitudes, values and skills, as well as knowledge to promote healthy behaviours and conditions, teachers must be trained to use a wide variety of teaching methods. Some teachers rely on one or two educational methods, such as lectures and worksheets. Although these methods may reach a large number of people and convey vast amounts of information that might otherwise not be disseminated, lectures are not very effective in helping to build prevention skills. Teacher training should focus on methods that engage students and parents in the educational process, such as discussion, debates, role playing and community education projects. All these training elements can help ensure the effectiveness and relevance of tobacco use interventions.