USP assists Tonga Health Ministry with health messaging
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From L- R: Mr. Sione Hufanga Ministry of Health, Mr. Nicolas Sabourin Counselor, High Commission of Canada in New Zealand, Dr. Ruth Toumu’a Fellow in Curriculum, IOE-USP Tonga Campus.
A key project aimed at improving and supporting the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through health messaging in Tonga is being made possible through The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Institute of Education (IOE).
IOE has been assisting Pacific countries to achieve quality education through its Research & Development programme, Professional Development & Learning programme, and the Waka Publications programme since 1976.
The Waka Publications programme has been publishing children’s reading books, teacher guides, and classroom resources in more than eight (8) Pacific languages over the past 40 years.
Waka Publication’s latest collaboration is with the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), the Tonga Ministry of Health, and Tonga Ministry of Education & Training to develop, and print a 10-book series (5 Fiction and 5 Non-Fiction books) known as the Health Series. The messages will be relayed through picture storybooks for pre-primary aged children in the island kingdom.
The project supports the new focus on ‘Early Childhood’ aged children as a priority intervention group for NCD prevention by the Ministry of Health.
At the same time, it provides valuable tools for the development of first language literacy skills in Tongan language, to support the Ministry of Education and Training’s national language policy and national Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) curriculum.
This collaboration represents a significant step towards the types of inter-sectoral partnerships possible for Health and Education, and exemplifies work towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing); Goal 4 (Quality Education); and Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) in the Pacific.
The Health Series books’ topics cover NCD risk factor related issues such as living with diabetes, smoking, diet and healthy food choices, exercise, and healthy family lifestyles and wellbeing. The books are published in the Tongan language, locally illustrated and photographed, and printed in full colour, and are specifically designed to be read to and enjoyed by the 3-6 year old age group.
Generous sponsorship from the CFLI has made it possible for a 10-book set to be gifted to every registered Early Childhood centre throughout Tonga.
The development of the book took place from August 2017 through to mid-April 2018, with a book launch and distribution planned for mid-May 2018. Following the launch and distribution, the series will be available for sale to the public.
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