The project ran in partnership by Sightsavers, the World Bank, Imperial College London’s Partnership for Child Development and the Global Partnership for Education between January 2016 and December 2016.
During the year, teachers were taught about major eye conditions affecting their region, and trained to examine their students and record their findings. Children with vision problems were then given free spectacles, while those suffering from or at risk of worm infections were treated with deworming medication. The teachers were also trained to educate their students about eye health and personal hygiene, with the children encouraged to share what they had learned with their families.
Bin Nou, a 35-year-old headteacher from Siem Reap in Cambodia, was one of those who took part in the SHIP project. “Our villages don’t have easy access to eye care providers,” she explains. “Glasses are not available locally, so vision problems often remain uncorrected.”
During her training, Nou was taught about different eye conditions, and learned how to use a vision screening kit to examine her students’ eyes. She can now help children with vision problems who could then be given spectacles or referred to a specialist for further treatment if necessary.
After completing her training, Nou tested the eyesight of all 205 children in her school and identified one child who needed glasses. The student was offered a selection of differently coloured frames to choose from – while she was shy at first about wearing her new spectacles, Nou helped to reassure her.
As part of the programme, Nou’s eyes were also tested: after years of suffering from poor vision, she discovered she needed spectacles and was given her first pair of glasses.