A developing country like Nepal has many school pupils with poor health status.
To identify and evaluate the indoor environmental conditions of government and private schools, and to assess the health impact on the pupils.
A cross sectional study of representative samples of 35 schools of selected regions of Nepal, including government and private schools, was conducted. Onsite observations and health check ups, along with interview with pupils and teachers, were carried out. Specific scores were given for all criteria. The data were analysed and edited using the Epi Info program.
The results show that 89% of government schools and 45% of private schools have poor environmental conditions. Furthermore, 69% of government school pupils are suffering from health problems directly related to environmental conditions at school, while only 22% of private school pupils show symptoms of similar health problems. Government schools don't have the standard classrooms, adequate sports facilities, safe drinking water, and adequate light and ventilation in place, when compared to private schools.
We conclude that the main causes are poor socio-economic status, illiteracy of parents, negligence, physically demanding housework for children, disease, malnutrition, incomplete immunisation and lack of health education. The poor environmental conditions at school include crowed classrooms, poor ventilation, shortage of clean drinking water, unhygienic or untidy clothing worn by pupils, poor nutrition, lack of greenery in the school area, location of schools close to main roads, air pollution and lack of environmental awareness among teachers and parents. The government schools have limited budgets and resources when compared to private schools. Most of the lower and lower middle class family children are studying in government schools; these schools are attended by 82% of the total number of pupils, nationally.
The government should apportion special budgets to the government schools, for the allocation of resources and facilities such as good ventilation, limited pupil numbers per class, and more awareness among teachers and parents. Last but not the least, these types of programs will be helpful in preventing, or at least minimising, environmental health hazards.