Lack of open spaces in schools exposes girls to serious diseases

Islamabad:April 28:Ninety per cent teenage or adolescent girls are deprived of open space (sunlight facilities) in their schools in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, which sometimes expose them to serious diseases, say a research study of the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU). The study was conducted by the AIOU’s Home and Health Sciences Department in collaboration with the Pakistan Institute for Environment-Development Action Research (PIEDAR) through Pakistan Strategy Support Programme (PSSP) under a USAID-funded project. It was in line with directions of AIOU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Shahid Siddiqui who has opted to link the ongoing research process of the university with the society’s overall issues and problems. He hoped that such a study would provide useful input to the policy-makers and the relevant departments in future planning. The research finding was evaluated at a seminar held at the AIOU’s main campus which was addressed by Professor Dr. Steve Davies, a senior official of International Food Policy Research Institute, Dean Sciences Professor Dr. Naghama Rashid, Chairman Department of Home and Health Sciences Professor Dr. Nomana Anjum, Executive Director PIEDAR Ayub Qutub and Assistant Professor Ms. Hajra Ahmed. In her presentation, Dr. Nomana Anjum explained that girls due to lack of open spaces in schools suffered from vitamin-D deficiency. Mostly private schools for low- and middle-income groups are located in converted residential units with limited space that denies children opportunities for physical development and cognitive and social learning in school grounds. In contrast, most state schools have adequate school grounds. Sadly, it is observed that few of these institutions encourage their students to fully utilise the existing school grounds, and none have developed their open spaces for creative and healthy sports. According to the research-based survey, there are a large number of private schools which have no school grounds, rather having just small open-to-the-sky courtyards or covered reception spaces. The children’s access to the rooftop is limited. Thus, during recess at these schools, they cluster around the water cooler and snack shop. The research literature reveals direct links between creative outdoor play and the health, well-being, and social and emotional development of children. This underlines the importance of school grounds. Pakistan is a sun-drenched country where inhabitants are supposed to have enough sunlight exposure to maintain adequate vitamin-D level. Researchers say that promotion of proper sun exposure, physical activity of girls in their educational institutions is imperative for a better life. Dr. Shahid Saddiqui appreciated the Home and Health Sciences Department for doing a productive work. He also thanked the relevant departments for their cooperation and support.The news.