Doc. 9959

7 October 2003

European education system as one of the risk factors to students’ health

Motion for a resolution and a recommendation

presented by Mr Korobeynikov and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

      Implacably worsening quality of health and development of children attending school and pre-school institutions is a matter of serious concern. This process is typical for all countries of Europe. Factors destroying health of children, teenagers and youth are traditional, largely outdated approaches to the organization of teaching and educational process. Analysis of destructive elements in commonly accepted educational models has shown that laws of liberation and development of the physical and spiritual nature of students and principles of contemporary school go in opposite directions. As a result, society from generation to generation reproduces through kindergarten and school increasingly unhealthy youth, which leave behind them descendants of less and less vitality. For example in Russia completely healthy students constitute less than 10%. A similar situation is typical for several other countries.

      As long ago as at the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment pedagogues and physicians raised the alarm that the commonly used sitting, listening and book-reading method of studying destroys physical and spiritual health of children. Prominent pedagogue J. Pestalozzi said in his time that bookish methods of teaching “stifles” children’s development, “kills” their health. In the mid-fifties of the last century the participants of the congresses on education in Paris, Basle and Lund started speaking openly about the beginning of “dehumanizing” of school-age children. The IX congress of pediatricians of Russia came to the conclusion that during the years of studying in our schools, the health of every child becomes five times worse.

      Why does it happen? The UN Convention on the rights of the child, while declaring healthy development of the child as a priority, does not contain mechanisms for implementation of this idea. That is why educational systems of many countries function without objective assessment of teaching methods. Education-managing bodies lack regular monitoring of physical, psychic and moral features of every child. School forms of pathology with regard to bearing, eyesight, neuropsychic conditions are not timely assessed. There is no critical analysis of educational process, which is not always conformable to the child’s nature.

      In classes with an authoritarian teacher, the sickness rate is three times higher and the number of neural disorders, 1.5-2 times higher than in classes with a humane teacher. It is not by chance that student suicides have become a constant occurrence. In many countries of Europe suicides take second place in child mortality after traffic accidents.

      The Working day of a present-day school student, homework included, comes to 9-10 hours in elementary school (age from 6 to 8-9 years), 10-12 hours in junior high school (age from 10 to 13 years) and 13-15 hours in high school (age from 14 to 16-17 years).

      Thus at the heart of students’ ill health are not so much medical as pedagogical to withstand school forms of pathology without medical intervention.

      At the same time, European educational systems can be more efficiently aimed at improving moral, psychic and physical health of students if the school is given a clearly defined social order: healthy moral, psychic and physical development of graduating students must be made high-priority criteria for assessing efficiency of the educational system, of the state and of the society.

      Based on the above-stated, the Assembly recommends that:

      National parliaments:

      Create legal guarantees for maintaining and improving students’ health in the process of receiving education; promote in every country implementation of the principle: students’ health after graduation from an educational institution must be by far better than before entering it.

      National governments:

      Make forming the mature, psychic and physical personality of students higher priority than the process of providing them with information; ensure that pedagogical bodies implement educational techniques and procedures corresponding to the objective psychophysical laws of formation and development of students; prevent over studying; systematically carry out expertise of educational procedures in order to maintain psycho-pedagogical, health-related monitoring of textbooks and curriculum; direct ministries of education and health toward exercising regular monitoring of students’ state of development and health, as well as the dynamics of such development at the beginning and at the end of each school year.

i.       define a set of mandatory indicators for assessing the quality of students’ development and health and procedures for determining the dynamics for the past school year;

ii.       keep statistics of comparative indicators of students’ state of health and development;

iii.       publish in the media for open use information on students’ state of health;

iv.       establish responsibility of educational institutions and bodies, of authorities at all levels for causing damage to students’ health and development.

      Hold an open competition to develop an all-European strategic programme: “Moral, psychic and physical development of children in the system of pre-school and school training and education” which could be used as a basis for making changes to the European school legislation aimed at organizing an educational process on the principles of conformity with nature.

Signed 1:

Korobeynikov, Russia, SOC

Cilevičs, Latvia, SOC

Crema, Italy, SOC

Davis, United Kingdom, SOC

Kucheida, France, SOC

Oliynyk, Ukraine, UEL

Seyidov, Azerbaijan, EDG

Sudarenkov, Russia, SOC

Tulaev, Russia, EDG

Yarygina, Russia, SOC

1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group