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Sightsavers Reports

Screening school children in remote communities

Two teachers prepare a tumbling e-chart for the school children's eye exam.

In rural communities such as Tumbatu Island in Zanzibar, it’s rare that an eye health specialist is able to visit regularly to check children’s eyes. So training teachers to perform eye examinations is a great way to identify students who need help.

It’s vital to identify conditions such as cataracts or trachoma early on, as they can cause lasting damage and even lead to permanent blindness. The screenings also help to identify school children with refractive error, and help to spread the word about the importance of eye health.

Dr Rajab and another health worker walk along the shore towards Jongowe school.
Dr Rajab (right), eye health coordinator at the Ministry of Health, travels to Tumbatu Island for a day of eye screening.

Arriving at Jongowe secondary school

When we arrive at Jongowe School, students fill the buildings and outside corridors. Dr Rajab and his colleagues came here three weeks ago to train the secondary school teachers.

By the time we arrive, those students who were identified as potentially having low vision or eye conditions are lined up along the terrace and waiting patiently to be tested and examined by the eye specialists.

The children queue patiently, awaiting their eye screenings.

Spectacles were in high demand

Over the course of the morning and early afternoon, the team see 67 children in total. Of those, 28 need spectacles, but only 19 are fitted with them.

Unfortunately the number of children in need is larger than anticipated, and the team hasn’t brought enough, so a teacher will travel to the Ministry of Health in Zanzibar Town on Monday to pick up sets for nine remaining students.

Among those who got their spectacles was 18-year-old Nachum.

Nachum struggled to see the blackboard

Nachum had been having trouble seeing at school. “I noticed I couldn’t see the small letters on the blackboard,” she told us. “And when it was bright, I couldn’t see well.” When Nachum told her parents that she was struggling, they tried to arrange to take her to the hospital to be checked, but it never happened. “I think it was because they lacked the money,” she explains.

But Nachum liked her new glasses. When she first put them on, we had to show her how to tuck the arms inside her headscarf, as she initially perched them precariously over her fabric-covered ears.

School children have their heads down, taking notes in a lesson.

Thanks to generous donations from people like you, we’re able to give more children like Nachum the chance of a brighter future.

School children have their heads down, taking notes in a lesson.

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