The activity of policy making mostly involves research analysis and synthesis of information in order to bring out sound and acceptable solutions. This should also include evaluation opportunities by involving relevant stakeholders, For example, the people who will have policy responsibilities or implementers should be consulted in the policy development.
Participatory policy making, as a general approach, facilitates inclusion through consultative or participative means of individuals or groups in the development of policy. This allows for transparency, accountability and participation of all stakeholders. Creating the right conditions and putting up the necessary structures enable participatory policy making that raises awareness about the issues at stake.
A key aspect of leadership management and support include championing for excellence in policy development. Process management provides staff with necessary resources making an ideal method of providing leadership direction; this also helps in policy management. Therefore, policy development is affected by the human resource in a company. The process of staffing the company should be geared towards providing human resource that is both capable and knowledgeable.
Increasingly, solutions to health problems are multi-faceted and multi-layered usually involving more than one department and level of institutional structure. Alternatively put, policy issues are usually cross-cutting or have horizontal implications. Therefore, one of the important strategies to successful policy development is to identify the people who need to be involved in the process. Policy leaders should identify whether a certain policy issue is cross-cutting and if so, they should ensure that the right persons are involved in the policy making process.
Even as more schools try to increase the levels of physical activities, a single approach has been shown not to be effective. The public health lead and the nurse designed health promotion strategies that were supposed to increase physical activities and improved diet among the students. The research had shown that the interventions implemented the year before had not made any impact, therefore, the public health lead and the nurse came up with a multi-faceted policy to stem the problem.
The Public health leader and the nurse failed to involve all the stakeholders neither did they educate the students and communities on the need to adopt a new practice. Creating and implementing strategies to encourage physical activity and healthy diet amongst students requires the involvement of all stakeholders including the policy makers. This is possible through the following means:
- Contribution: provision of voluntary or other forms of input to programs.
- Information sharing: Informing stakeholders about their rights, options and responsibility.
- Consultation: Stakeholders interact and come up with feedback.
- Consensus building and cooperation: Stakeholders negotiate positions to reach an agreement.
- Decision making: Involving stakeholders in decision making
- Partnerships: Stakeholders working as equals
- Empowerment: Transfer power of decision making and resources to stakeholders.
Leadership support should also extend to ensuring that policy implementers and those impacted on have access to the resources they need. The Public health lead failed to do this because they did not consider providing nutritional diet to the students at the school and opted only to offer nutritional education.
The risks associated with failing to provide leadership direction and support include; (1) slow response to policy requests, (2) staff with limited understanding of the dimensions of the issue/problem, (3) limited or poor communication from leaders/managers/implementers regarding the direction of the program, (4) inaccuracies in the presentation of facts, and (5) limited creativity and innovation in policy response.
For a program to succeed, the school tends to rely on the leader’s ability to develop the support and manage the expectations of key people. The successful management of stakeholders can bring about a substantial and immediate impact. Stakeholders that are satisfied can immensely improve the progress and relevance of the program thereby contributing significantly to its success. Conducting stakeholder analysis should be an important first step in managing the human, social, and financial resources in the program.
Stakeholder analysis is a process that provides insights and understanding of the interactions/relations between a program and its stakeholders (Grimble and Wellard 1996). It is a tool that helps members identify and prioritize stakeholders who can bring success to the program. It brings the opportunity to have an insightful discussion about their project and stakeholders. This can lead to the whole team developing a clear knowledge of various project stakeholders, thus helping to develop a focused program strategy.
There are several risks that may arise when stakeholders are not involved, they are:
- Time and resources may be wasted.
- Stakeholders may not be managed efficiently because project teams are not sharing their knowledge and understanding.
- Important stakeholders may be overlooked.
- Project leaders may work on unproven assumptions about how stakeholder and the program relate.
In conclusion, the Public health lead and the school nurse failed to consider the various interests that should have been involved in the formulation of health policy. It is, therefore, important that they conduct a stakeholder analysis so that they may select the appropriate individuals to support the implementation of the physical activity policy. For example, the owner of the food canteen should be brought on board so that he/she can provide the students with healthy meals. The two physical education teachers who were excluded should also be involved since they are crucial for policy implementation.
Physical education and healthy eating habits in school contribute positively to the health of students and the development of lasting appreciation of nutritional foods and enjoyment of physical activities. From a health perspective, young people should participate in physical exercises for at least one hour every day.
A whole-school approach is a strategy of health promotion. W.H.O. has approved of the whole-school approach in the promotion of physical wellbeing and health in schools (Howden 2007a). It has been suggested and practiced many other education settings to address health problems such as obesity.
Some factors I have identified as important to achieve positive outcomes using the whole-school approach for health promoting schools are:
- All teachers use a common curricular for nutritional and physical development learning within the school
- Health outcomes are agreed upon from the beginning.
- Strengths and areas for further development are identified e.g. minimum physical activity time and expectations are agreed upon for all teaching staff.
Whole-school Approach to a Healthy diet
The curriculum and healthy school diets should be mandatory. Positive peer pressure within the school setting can create a culture in which a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are actively chosen. This culture should be adopted by the entire school so that it can create a positive impact on the choices made by students about food competition even when they are absent from school.
A good attitude towards food restaurants that serve healthy food should be promoted and supported. This is can be done through a whole-school approach to nutrition. The World Health Organization encourages schools to adopt a health promoting nutrition in schools approach to support healthy eating habits (Grimble and Wellard 1996).
Using the ‘Health Promoting Schools framework’ the school can create a model to protect and promote the health habits of students. The framework brings out the relationship between:
- Teaching, curriculum and learning
- Communal links and partnerships.
Examples of healthy food-related actions include:
- Developing curriculum that supports healthy food choices by encouraging students to be involved in food-related activities e.g. planning meals, growing foods crops, cooking and shopping for food products.
- Providing a variety of healthy foods at the school canteen and altering the menu regularly. This should also be accompanied by consistent messages about healthy diet in all aspects of school activities.
- Community links and partnerships that connect the school with local fruit and vegetable retailers. To foster such links and partnerships, there should be a school visit by the retailers, healthy food canteens or an excursion to a local market which may support a committed group of people to supply healthy foods to students.
Whole-School approach to Healthy Physical Activities
- Conducting a physical activity audit and creating a physical activity development plan.
- Create a formula for physical education program that meet national curriculum standards.
- Provide quality physical activity opportunities within and outside curriculum time.
- Provide adequate resources and funding for physical education.
- Raise the profile of physical activities to encourage pupils to participate.
- Organizing special events to promote physical activity
- Promoting leadership opportunities while participating in physical activities
Reasons for choosing the selected Evidence in the Presentation
Whether they like it or not leaders in policy making must acknowledge that they are part of a complex environment and will soon not be able to come up with sustainable policies if they do not realize they are interdependent with other players in the sector. Interaction with stakeholders is a process that most policy developers currently do to improve the success of their programs.
In this presentation, emphasis is placed on the importance of involving all the relevant stakeholders as a means of creating an inclusive public participation program. When executed effectively, engagement of stakeholders can be used in creating ideas and enhancing the reputation of the institution hence providing for a sustainable decision making process.
Effective stakeholder engagement helps resolve conflicts among and between groups impacted on by the program. Participants will find their participation to be fair, legitimate and worthwhile. In addition, they will leave the engagement process with a new-found knowledge of the importance of physical activities and diet management. This will help them to develop an appreciation for the complex social, biological, economic, and political environment surrounding healthy lifestyle maintenance (Pardo, et al. 2013).
Stakeholder engagement also has its own difficulties, which are, high cost, large amounts of staff time, and conflicts arising between individuals outside the process. Despite these challenges, most of the time stakeholder engagement process has proven beneficial in producing useful, supported management plans, and in helping to build strong, long-lasting partnerships.
The current arena of stakeholder engagement is, therefore, a bewildering display of diversity and can operate on different levels of ‘the ladder of participation’ from collecting information to consulting and involving stakeholders directly in decision making. Various approaches have been developed to meet different needs and challenges. There is increasing agreement that inclusion approach to stakeholder management is important, not only to meet demands but also to drive learning, creativity and performance in the program. This new concept of open collaborative work will in future undoubtedly be the key to building resilience and replace the unilateral policy making process.
Influence of Stakeholder Participation in policy Development (Local Water Management Plan)
The Dutch National government wanted to formulate a policy for water management in all areas by the end 2007. The most important objective of this policy was to encourage the development of high peat. To do this, there was a need for a rise in the water table, whereas adjoining agricultural lands requires low water table levels. This difference in stakes set the ground for a long drawn out water management conflict. An attempt in 2001 to resolve the problem had ended with no solution. This water management policy only worsened the clash of interests.
The Participatory Approach
This approach involved a board group whose members were selected in a way that ensured all stakes were represented. The level of interaction of this group can be characterized as consultation with collaborative elements (Biggs, 1989). The actors collaborated by exchanging knowledge and advice to make decisions, but the major decisions remained with the water board.
The most important stakeholders consisted of environmental conservationists and farmers. Others that were included were residents of surrounding villages and a few businessmen. The group consisted of 30 delegates and the team bilaterally interacted with both the farmers and environmental conservationists.
It was found that stakeholders contributed to the knowledge base by giving diverse contributions such as area characteristics, model application, stakeholder preferences, creative policy design, knowledge of local development and competencies. The knowledge made a substantial influence on policy development. The background information and information on local development saved on the cost of analysis. Information on the area characteristics made the analysis accurate and tailored to respond to local situations. Stakeholder preferences were different from those initially assumed by the project team, therefore, changing the policy assessment criteria. Discussion of procedures and competencies and the information that some farmers were willing to sell their land provided an important opening process.
Farmers and environmental conservationists amended the knowledge about their major concerns. The conservationists valued the condition of the overall ecosystem over peat development at certain locations. The farmers attempted to clarify the long term benefits of agriculture in the region they could. The farmers also indicated their preference for local drainage control mechanisms.
Stakeholder involvement in policy development led to increased quality of the knowledge base. It also widened the frame to include additional options and crucial stakeholder criteria. Involvement of stakeholders made the process of uncertainty very much pronounced resulting in the adoption of a broader framework.
Biggs, S. D. 1989. Resource-poor Farmer Participation in Research: A Synthesis of Experiences from National Agricultural Research Systems. OFCOR-Comparative study paper 3 International Service for National Agricultural Research, The Hague, The Netherlands.
Grimble R and Wellard K. 1996. “Stakeholder Methodologies in Natural Resource Management: A Review of Principles, Contexts, Experiences and Opportunities,” Agricultural Systems, 55(2): 173-193. Howden, P.F. 2007a. A critical stakeholder analysis process. Practice Change, Department of Primary Industries, Bendigo, Australia
Pardo, B.M., Bengoechea, E.G., Lanaspa, E.G., Bush, P.L., Casterad, J.Z., Clemente, J.A.J. and Gonzalez, L.G. 2013. ‘Promising school-based strategies and intervention guidelines to increase physical activity of adolescents’, Health Education Research, 28(3): 523–38.