Saudi Arabia Schools: Perspectives on Adding First Aid Education as a Mandatory Class

Introduction

Students spend a considerable part of their time in school settings, which puts a large share of responsibility on schools in general and teachers in particular. Because school students are under their educators’ guidance during the school day, the latter have to be aware of the possible health-related risks and the ways of managing them. However, the current situation in this respect cannot be described as satisfactory. In the majority of countries, there are no special training courses for teachers or students that would allow mitigating risks of sudden injuries or emergency events that occur when children are at school.

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Meanwhile, the rapid growth of technology and weapons, as well as the deteriorating environment, serve as additional risks to children’s health at every point of their day. School time is not an exception from this phenomenon; on the contrary, the danger of becoming injured while at school is greater than in many other circumstances.

In Saudi Arabia, much attention is paid to the development of health education and first-aid care. The increase in activities was initially observed during the 1990s due to the creation of specific prevention and control programs (Al-Hashem, 2016). However, this dimension of the health-related educational programs is focused on medical students rather than school teachers. Whereas the consideration of health studies in the country has deserved sufficient interest on the part of the government, the focus on schools and the participants of the study process has not gained a similar level of concern.

Since children spend a lot of time in school settings, they become vulnerable to multiple injuries and traumas that may need first-aid care. Unfortunately, as research indicates, the majority of school teacher cannot cope with basic health issues even though they can identify the major health-related problems in schoolchildren (Qureshi, Khalid, Nigah-e-Mumtaz, Assad, & Noreen, 2018). At the same time, poor safety regulations lead to teachers’ inability to help students and provide them with the requisite knowledge. Hence, it is highly significant to resolve this issue and provide suitable conditions for teachers to obtain knowledge on first aid and share it with their students.

One of the current problems faced by Saudi Arabian schools is the lack of adding first aid education to the curriculum and insufficient teachers’ perspectives on student awareness of their health. For example, stomachache, dental health issues, asthma attacks, epilepsy, and menses are the most frequent health-related problems observed among students. Therefore, it is important for teachers to be ready to assist young people in unpredictable cases, while preparing them to deal with similar problems alone. In this paper, the background for the development of first-aid curriculum guidelines will be offered through a thorough evaluation of first-aid knowledge and skills, the recognition of a safe learning environment, as well as the prevention of common.

Injuries and Illnesses among Students

The promotion of a safe environment at schools is one of the major priorities of teachers, administrative workers, and principles. However, despite sincere intentions to protect children and offer them the best conditions for education, unintentional traumas and injuries may not be ruled out, and unpredictable emergency situations occur (Elewa & Saad, 2017). According to Mohammed (2018), childhood is a period when students are extremely vulnerable to various illnesses and thus, need to be prepared to offer or accept first aid care. Furthermore, the researcher notes that many of the injuries occur in childhood age, which means that a considerable percentage of them happens at schools (Mohammed, 2018).

Whereas these facts are revealed by academic studies, there are no sufficient resolutions of the problem due to low teachers’ awareness of basic injuries and the ways of helping with them (Mohammed, 2018). Hence, knowing about the potential risks to student health is a positive factor, but it could be further promoted by instructing teachers on the ways of mitigating such issues.

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Correspondingly, the investigation of Foran et al. (2019) elucidated the worth of teachers’ participation in and reflection on various practices. For example, outdoors activities not only help prepare students for injuries, but also provide an opportunity to avoid them. Oftentimes, the lack of knowledge about the basic principles of hygiene and primary care defines the quality of life and relationships that students and teachers tend to develop. A brief examination of such health conditions and menses, asthma, and epilepsy should therefore, help identify the importance of student well-being and the promotion of a healthy learning environment.

Asthma

Asthma is one of the common illnesses plaguing the lives of millions of people around the globe. In this regard, research undertaken by Alotaibi (2015) introduced a sufficient opportunity to understand the role of asthma education, control, and self-management from an international perspective. In Saudi Arabia, the government supports the development of new initiatives for asthma control in order to ensure that schools and other public facilities have access to helpful guidelines and can manage asthmatic cases in adults or children (Alotaibi, 2015). The duration and quality of first aid for asthmatic patients assume great significance, and schools must provide students with the basic knowledge of necessary procedures.

Epilepsy

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been tackling the challenge posed by epilepsy for a long time. Although the prevalence of this condition in Saudi Arabia is not as high as in other countries, Al-Harbi, Alsaid, and Parameaswari (2018) made suggestions to improve current practices toward students with epilepsy, thereby supporting the idea of adding first aid education for this disease to schools’ curriculums. Epilepsy not only influences the work of the brain and heart, but may also change the quality of in a short span of time. For this reason, students as well as teachers must be prepared for related injuries and prevent complications.

Menstrual Health

Many girls remain unaware of menstruation signs and the steps that need to be undertaken. In this regard, Karout (2016) recommended increasing awareness and offering accurate information about this health condition at schools as well as colleges in terms of physiology, psychological changes, and other aspects of reproductive health. As soon as young ladies get access to data about menstrual health, they are likely to be able to predict psychological traumas, inconvenience, and fears.

Importance of Student Physical Well-Being

Students’ well-being remains a priority for many schools, regardless of their specifications and populations. Health care education is paramount for athletes, people with disabilities, or even ordinary people. However, particular prominence is given to this aspect in relation to schools and participants of the educational process: students and teachers. For example, Schneider, Meeteer, Nolan, and Campbell (2017) underlined the importance of the implementation of emergency and administrative procedures in order to prepare students and teachers for sudden health problems, complications, and deaths.

It is relevant to take these authors’ views into consideration because they have credentials such as a clinical education coordinator, assistant professors, and Ph.D. and professor. Scholars explained the value of electrocardiograms, better/increased legislation, and qualified medical personnel (Schneider et al., 2017). However, they were unable to predict the outcomes in case at least one of the variables is absent in the program. Therefore, new methods and policies are required to promote positive health outcomes along with a high level of knowledge.

First aid is critical in any public organization, and people would do well to understand what they can do to help a person and what activities must be avoided not to cause new problems. Louw and de Villiers (2015) described first aid courses as a period when learners gain knowledge about the most common conditions that require emergency, develop necessary medical skills, and share their experiences with other people.

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It is important to take findings of this study into consideration since both authors hold a Ph.D. degree and have much experience in the field they research. It is noteworthy that the injuries incurred during the childhood period may cause serious lifelong problems or even lead to death, thereby necessitating great attention (Mohammed, 2018). In this context, first aid represents an opportunity for children to avoid such negative outcomes, and teachers must make significant contributions to the improvement of students’ well-being.

The well-being of students is predetermined by the quality of education. Health education turns out to be an obligatory part of modern curriculums in terms of which learners and teachers discuss objectives, skills, and available resources (Al-Hashem, 2016). The author works as an assistant professor of health education at the College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University. Thus, her contribution to the topic of research should be considered as highly relevant and useful.

However, this issue is rarely identified as a primary goal of health education, which underpins the importance of including it for widespread discussion. Physical wellness of students is contingent upon the quality of knowledge, the safety of the environment, and the awareness of teachers of first-aid techniques (Foran et al., 2019). Therefore, mere identification of illnesses and injuries are not enough, and the identification of the environment and participants’ roles can no longer be ignored.

Safety of the Learning Environment

The observations of experiences in different schools demonstrate that not all teachers are ready to provide their students with effective primary care. A poorly developed environment is one reason for teachers’ inability to offer first aid to students. According to research performed by the Ph.D. and associate professor, Hırça (2012), the lack of safety in schools and classrooms does not allow teachers to address the first aid needs of students.

There are several possible reasons for such an insufficient safety level. First of all, the increased number of technological and man-made hazards is likely to affect present-day schoolchildren. Secondly, the government does not pay enough attention to the problem since first aid education has not yet been included in the school curriculum. Thirdly, some schools lack equipment and professional training of teachers who could further help their students to cope with basic injuries or health-related problems.

In addition, the quality of knowledge possessed by teachers is not always as high as it should be. To that end, Hırça (2012) observed that even if teachers are able to obtain some theoretical knowledge and learn about different case studies, they do not demonstrate high-quality, practical skills. Therefore, it is necessary to discuss the duties of teachers and expectations of students while simultaneously identifying the signs of a safe learning environment.

Fostering health in education and the promotion of safety in a learning environment are the potential causes for students, teachers, and the school as a system to demonstrate powerful ways of learning. Sustainability training is known to impart positive outcomes for students because they learn how to cooperate and regularly apply their knowledge on a practical level (Zinckernagel et al., 2016). According to Schneider et al. (2017), funding is another important contribution to the safe learning environment because it represents a good possibility of hiring professional staff, identify additional resources, and discover new ways of teaching.

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Finally, Louw and de Villers (2015) investigated the benefits of service-learning processes to enhance social accountability, collaborative learning, problem-solving, and decision-making. Health problems may vary in children and adult students alike, and awareness of students does not always suffice. The environment needs to be safe not only in terms of health and control of injuries or illnesses, but also with regard to the available materials, teachers’ skills and knowledge, as well as students’ abilities and intentions.

First-Aid Knowledge and Skills

There are many reasons as to why it is important to develop the necessary skills of first aid knowledge in both teachers and students. Currently, many teachers acknowledge the complexity of this course where first-aid knowledge is obtained, or the necessity of re-certification (Berden et al., as cited in Foran et al., 2019). In this regard, Schneider et al. (2017) wrote about relatively low knowledge of coaches and teachers about health-related issues.

Finally, research by Lown and de Villiers (2015) proved that students are eager to develop their communication and practice skills. The choice of such geographical location is explained by the existing statistical data that 6/1000 people of Saudi Arabia suffer from epilepsy and need additional first aid knowledge (Al-Harbi et al., 2018), or about 8-14% of children have asthma (Alotaibi, 2015). Girls at the age of puberty also need additional help and elucidations on how to cope with changes related to ministration; for that purpose, special courses within their curriculums seem to be to be a good and helpful idea (Karout, 2016). Therefore, it is reasonable to develop new practices and programs and implement them across curriculums, particularly in Saudi Arabian schools.

Perspectives of high school teachers on adding first-aid education to classroom activities are usually found to be positive. Firstly, a number of benefits are imparted for children equipped with new knowledge related to the prevention of new health problems (Elewa & Saad, 2017). Secondly, several successful attempts were made to implement first aid practices and improve the level of knowledge among students (Mohammed, 2018).

Finally, first-aid knowledge varies, including the social aspects of medicine and psychological reactions, and teachers help students define their priorities and succeed in dealing with health problems, illnesses, and injuries (Louw & de Villiers, 2015). The development of such knowledge and skills is paramount for students and teachers as key members of the society and potential contributors to the fields of medicine and health care.

First-Aid Curriculum Guidelines

After underlining the importance of first aid education and explaining the required skills and knowledge to be developed, it is necessary to explore curriculum guidelines. In many modern schools, there are no clear guidelines for common diseases and injuries in students and adults (Zinckernagel et al., 2016). Guidelines are necessary as they introduce a definite plan of actions and hints for users. People learn how to recognize a health problem, discover the most effective decisions, share information with healthcare experts, and support a person in need until professional help is offered. The example of Danish secondary schools showed that principles prefer to address external experts for help rather than training local teachers (Zinckernagel et al., 2016).

Norwegian public schools develop their own curriculums and hire trained teachers who explain how to perform simple first aid, water rescue, life-saving procedures, and aid for sports injuries (Bakke, Bakke, & Schwebs, 2017). In Canada, guidelines are created to prevent injuries, control outdoor pursuits, and stipulate first aid training with regard to students’ needs (Foran et al., 2019). Such international illustrations reveal a diverse range of guidelines to be implemented in curriculums for first aid.

Many approaches to introduce first aid techniques exist in schools at an international level. However, there are no clear examples of how to implement the guidelines in the Saudi Arabian context without disrupting the already existing curriculums. To develop a successful education plan, Bakke et al. (2017) recommended focusing on several competencies at the same time so that teachers and students may pick them up and check available resources (like mannequins, electrocardiograms, or textbooks).

Such access to materials may help tackle one of the major problems in modern schools where teachers have an understanding of theoretical basics but fail to implement them in practice (Hırça, 2012; Qureshi et al., 2018). Available background, fine examples, and credible resources contribute to the development of new courses in the Saudi Arabian context.

Theoretical Framework

In order to deal with the existing gap and improve the system of education in Saudi Arabian schools, there is a need to make changes in the current state of affairs. A planned organizational change is required to understand the worth of first aid knowledge for teachers and students and utilize available resources and opportunities. There are many ways of understanding organizational change, and the model developed by Kurt Lewin is one of the most commonly used options for both managers and administrators (Burke, 2018). The chosen theory of organizational change is known to impart certain benefits such as simplicity (three steps to be taken), context (interactions and performance), and the absence of time limits (authors are responsible for meeting a deadline).

According to Lewin’s theory of change, there are three major steps: unfreezing, moving, and refreezing. During the first stage, dissatisfaction with current conditions, required improvements, and internal performance are evaluated to reinforce the urgency of change and its direction (Batras, Duff, & Smith, 2016). In fact, Burke (2018) posited that this period is characterized by a variety of steps and ideas, including imparting education for teachers, student activities, or participation in discussions.

Thereafter, the stage of moving occurs to implement necessary practices, define new responsibilities, and approve training courses. This stage cannot commence unless the previous stage is over, and all the goals are achieved. As soon as a movement is successfully applied in a facility, a new task needs to be performed. Finally, a refreezing phase signals the establishment of new organizational norms, practices, and policies to support the appropriateness of change (Batras et al., 2016). A new and changed condition occurs with specific processes and reinforces being explained and approved. In order to ascertain that the chosen direction is correct, opinions should be gathered and analyzed.

In general, perspectives of high school teachers on first aid education in Saudi Arabian schools tend to vary, depending on the level of their existing knowledge and personal attitudes to health care and student well-being. In addition to the possibility of improving students’ knowledge and readiness to prevent and control illnesses/injuries associated with menstruation, asthma, or epilepsy, teachers enhance their self-awareness. The Arabian system of education, along with health care and medicine, continue developing, and this project marks one of these attempts to contribute to the chosen fields and their national success.

Conclusion

The offered literature review adequately demonstrates that the problem of insufficient knowledge of teachers about first aid techniques exists both in Saudi Arabia and globally. In some countries, the government and specific organizations have already developed curriculums and courses to support the idea of new knowledge for students (Bakke et al., 2017; Zinckernagel et al., 2016). Evidence of poor knowledge and practical skills among teachers has been proved by Hırça (2012). Different topics about the importance of first aid for populations, including menstruation health, asthma support, or epilepsy cases were raised by Saudi Arabian and other researchers (Al-Harbi et al., 2018; Alotaibi, 2016; Karout, 2016).

However, the there was no previous intention to unite Saudi Arabian schools, first aid education, and teachers’ perspectives within one study, which was a major gap. The kingdom can take inspiration from Canada, which witnessed the promotion of first aid education for outdoor athletes due to the increased interest of existing teachers on this issue (Foran et al., 2018). Saudi Arabian teachers demonstrate other priorities and social aspects to determine the content of education. The defined gap raises a new question to be answered in the event first aid training courses may be successfully implemented to current Saudi Arabia curriculums.

References

Al-Harbi, A, F., Alsaid, L. A., & Parameaswari, P. J. (2018). Primary school female teachers’ knowledge, attitude, and practice toward students with epilepsy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 7(2), 331-336.

Al-Hashem, A. (2016). Health education in Saudi Arabia: Historical overview. Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, 16(3), 286-292.

Alotaibi, G. A. (2015). Asthma control and self-management: The role of asthma education. Saudi Journal for Health Sciences, 4(1), 16-22.

Bakke, H. K., Bakke, H. K., & Schwebs, R. (2017). First-aid training in school: amount, content and hindrances. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, 61(10), 1361–1370. Web.

Batras, D., Duff, C., & Smith, B. J. (2016). Organizational change theory: Implications for health promotion practice. Health Promotion International, 31(1), 231-241.

Burke, W. W. (2018). Organization change: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Elewa, A. A., & Saad, A. M. (2017). Effect of child to child approach educational method on knowledge and practices of selected first aid measures among primary school children. Journal of Nursing Education and Practice, 8(1), 69-78.

Foran, A., Young, D., Kraglund-Gauthier, W. L., Hubley, D., Doyle, B., Doucette, J.,… Hudson, S. (2019). The 7 rights: An active reflection tool to develop risk awareness for outdoor first aid education. International Journal of First Aid Education, 2(1). Web.

Hırça, N. (2012). Does teachers’ knowledge meet first aid needs of Turkish schools? Review of Turkish literature. Journal of European Education, 2(2). Web.

Karout, N. (2016). Knowledge and beliefs regarding menstruation among Saudi nursing students. Journal of Nursing Education and Practice, 6(1), 23-30.

Louw, A., & de Villiers, A. (2015). Teaching first aid in high schools: The impact on students in the health sciences extended degree programme. South African Journal of Higher Education, 29(1), 198-210.

Mohammed, A. A. (2018). The influence of training program on knowledge and practices of preparatory schools’ children related to the selected first aid. American Journal of Nursing, 6(4), 158-163.

Qureshi, F. M., Khalid, N., Nigah-e-Mumtaz, S., Assad, T., & Noreen, K. (2018). First aid facilities in the school settings: Are school able to manage adequately? Pakistan Journal of Medical Science, 34(2), 272-276.

Schneider, K., Meeteer, W., Nolan, J. A., & Campbell, H. D. (2017). Health care in high school athletics in West Virginia. Rural & Remote Health, 17(1). Web.

Zinckernagel, L., Hansen, C. M., Rod, M. H., Folke, F., Torp-Pedersen, C., & Tjørnhøj-Thomsen, T. (2016). What are the barriers to implementation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation training in secondary schools? A qualitative study. BMJ Open, 6(4). Web.

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