Fit for School Inc. offers capacity development to representatives of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the local government units (LGUs).The Fit for School aims to implement and sustain the Essential Health Care Program (EHCP) using an intersectoral approach.

Supporting an intersectoral approach
Essential Health Care Program uses the Focusing Resources on Effective School Health (FRESH) framework developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank (WB). The FRESH framework employs intersectoral partnerships to execute, sustain and expand the program.

Cooperation between government agencies is essential to an intersectoral approach. To overcome the challenges of working with agencies whose institutional structures, budgeting systems, and planning mechanisms vary. The Fit for School supports the clarification of roles and responsibilities of all its stakeholders.

DepEd is Essential Health Care Program’s implementing agency. Using the administrative school structure, DepEd teachers and health personnel provide the manpower necessary for conducting the program. The manpower cost for implementation is thereby shouldered by DepEd.

The LGUs provide technical expertise and the budget for soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. The Department of Health provides deworming tablets. The Local communities and parents of students from participating schools are responsible for improving the school’s water supply and constructing washing facilities in the schools. Future collaboration with the water and sanitation sector is expected to result in improved sanitation facilities and further community development.

Fit for School Inc. facilitates meetings and workshops to help stakeholders conceptualize and define their roles and responsibilities.
Our ultimate goal is the institutionalization of Essential Health Care Program. Transforming the allocation of funds for EHCP into provincial ordinances in all provinces that will ensure ongoing support for the program through its inclusion in provinces’ annual operational plans.

Intensive Capacity Development

Fit for School Inc. provides technical expertise and materials for kick-starting EHCP in pilot areas. We offer intensive capacity development relating to the training and supervision of EHCP personnel and provide theoretical background on international health policies, evidence-based interventions, implementation issues and budget allocation. Our activities include situational analysis, development of the partner landscape and awareness raising. We also actively involve stakeholders in an advocacy process to expand the support network of Fit for School Inc.

We further support EHCP implementation by conducting visits and workshops on a provincial level to strengthen the work of the provincial EHCP technical working groups composed of representatives from DepEd, LGUs and NGOs or church groups.

Process Monitoring and Evaluating Implementation

Monitoring tools have been developed to help DepEd monitor and evaluate the implementation of EHCP, identify bottlenecks in the process and develop appropriate solutions. The tools are patterned on a scorecard system, which provides per-school performance scores as well as a mean score for an entire province. Fit for School Inc. helps DepEd conduct monitoring and plans to award schools and provinces that demonstrate outstanding performance.

Impact Evaluation: Measuring the Health and Education Outcomes of EHCP

Currently, we are preparing to evaluate EHCP’s effectiveness in the Philippine school setting by supporting DepEd’s scientific research on the program’s effect on child health, educational performance and behavioral change. In August 2009, a research project was initiated in Camiguin Province just off the northern coast of Mindanao to measure the impact of the program on children who have access to Essential Health Care Program.