The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), the Emirates Schools Establishment, and the Sharjah Private Education Authority have honoured 15 government and private schools in Sharjah and Fujairah — five government schools in Fujairah and 10 private schools in Sharjah — for participating in the trial edition of the project “Masar: A Healthy, Active Life for Schoolchildren”. The project, which targeted children grades one through six, is part of the schools’ endeavours to promote a healthy culture and support students to achieve healthy weights by adopting nutritious, active lifestyles.
The Masar project, a pivotal initiative within the 2022 performance agreements for federal government entities, was launched in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It aims to improve the lives of schoolchildren by creating healthy school environments. It includes several health programmes focusing on school ecosystems, outreach, awareness-raising, nutrition, and fitness for employees and students alike.
During its pilot phase, the project attained significant milestones, targeting approximately 22,000 students across 15 schools in the Emirates of Sharjah and Fujairah. The project has tracked the progress of overweight students in the intervention program, leading to a remarkable reduction in the weight of 42.2% of the participating students.
The categories honoured for meeting project targets included winning schools, teaching staff, and winning students. These winners were recognised for adopting healthy lifestyle habits, reducing the rate of weight gain among students, and persistently engaging with and supporting the Masar project under the National Plan to Combat Childhood Obesity.
Developing personal health skills
H.E. Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for the Public Health Sector at the Ministry stressed that the importance of the Masar project lies in its promotion of health and quality of life for schoolchildren, and its creation of healthy school environments through the implementation of various health programmes that make a positive health impact and encourage students in good health practices. The participation of students and educational and nursing staff in these programmes, he said, raises awareness on the importance of adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
“Masar has been a trial project, and its success serves as a model to be emulated and adopted in other schools across the nation, inspiring the development of sustainable health policies and programmes targeting students with nutrition and fitness support and health awareness,” Al Rand added.
H.E. Mohammed Alhashimi, Executive Director of the Students Wellbeing Sector at the Emirates Schools Establishment, said the establishment is working with various partners to create a school ecosystem that inspires best health practices and motivates all students. The Masar project, he said, is supporting the programmes and initiatives continuously launched by the establishment to serve government school students, enhancing their health-related habits and behaviours in every way with the constant follow-up and guidance of public health professionals in schools.
Alhashimi praised the positive results achieved by the students who participated in the project, commending the establishment’s fruitful collaboration with the Ministry to enhance the lives of young Emirati generations during their educational journeys, raising their awareness on the importance of following healthy, sustainable lifestyles.
“We are committed to cooperating with all government entities to serve our shared goals, which benefit students in their educational journeys and achieve the objectives of the government’s transformational projects requiring cooperation between numerous government agencies,” he said.
For his part, HE Ali Al Hosani, Director of the Sharjah Private Education Authority, lauded the productive collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Prevention, expressing his admiration for the dedication of schools to fostering a health-conscious environment for students, in line with the directives of our wise leadership and the national health policies and strategies.
Al Hosani urged all stakeholders to exert more efforts and build upon their daily achievements in promoting a healthy school atmosphere, adding that the "Masar" initiative is a key project designed to establish a lasting, healthy foundation for student welfare.Al Hosani added that the initiative reflects a shared aspiration for healthy and safe educational settings, which are crucial for nurturing aware and forward-thinking generations.
He emphasized that health forms the cornerstone of sustainable development and growth, which strengthens the efforts to transform schools into places where health and education are seamlessly integrated. This approach aligns with national health policies, ensuring the realization of the ambitious goals of this project.
Meanwhile, Nouf Khamis, Acting Director of the Health Promotion Department at the Ministry, said: “The Masar project plays a great role in boosting the quality of life of our students, along with promoting community participation and positive social interaction. If our students are healthy, they are more able to participate in school and community activities, and this helps to create a healthy and active generation that contributes to building a prosperous future for the UAE.”
The project “Masar: A Healthy, Active Life for Schoolchildren” is part of the Society axis, one of four pillars (“Economy”, “Enabling Ecosystem”, “Global Status”, and “Society”) covered under the UAE government’s accelerators of major transformational projects, embodying the directives of the nation’s wise leadership to apply a new methodology of government.
The transformative project will support the UAE government's efforts being made to establish a contemporary and innovative health system and foster lifelong advanced education. It is a strategic initiative within the ambit of the "We the UAE 2031" vision, demanding concerted and qualitative efforts to fulfill governmental aspirations. The project's impact is expected to positively resonate across society and various sectors of the country, positioning it as a crucial contributor to fostering a more prosperous society over the coming decade.