Fashola Launches Expanded School Eye Health Programme For Pubic Schools
• Advocates partnership between the school and the home to ensure that children are able to see
• As Government establishes Vision Corridors in Public Schools
Mar 13, 2014 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday launched the State's Expanded School Eye Health programme for public schools in the State urging a partnership between parents and teachers to ensure that the children are able to see in order to enhance their education.
The programme involves the use of the Vision Field Board, a board on which letters of the alphabets are written in different fonts in descending order for the purpose of testing the visual acuity of children while Vision Field Corridor is the location or "Corridor" where the board is fixed for the children to test their sight at their own time while in school.
Addressing teachers and parents, including community leaders and traditional rulers at the Olusosun Primary School in Oregun, Ikeja, venue of the event, Governor Fashola said such partnerships would also enable the detection of any eye defect in the children while also ensuring that such children get the right attention.
According to the Governor, while the teachers have the responsibility to monitor the children in school to ensure they are free from any eye defect; parents have the responsibility to ensure that children eat the nutrients that enhances their visual acuity.
Making reference to a drama performed by some pupils of the school to demonstrate the detection of eye default and the need for adequate attention as well as the need for appropriate nutrition, the Governor declared, "The message we have come here to share has been aptly imbibed by those for whom the message is meant; our children and it seems clear to me that the very first step in this decisive intervention has been achieved; the children understand what this is all about".
"The experts have told us that 80 percent of their learning is visual; so if they can't see they are at 80 percent deficiency and disability. This is why we are having this big event so that everybody can see", the Governor said adding that the real message is that the simple device helps to diagnose eye defects very quickly.
Noting that over one hundred of the boards have been installed in "a Vision Corridor" in many schools across the State and will be eventually installed in all public schools in the State, the Governor declared, "Children can get involved and do it in an interactive manner almost playfully standing six metres away from where this board is placed. And it will be their duty because there is a baseline".
"If you cannot read below the baseline then there is a defect and this is what the children can report to their teacher so that the teacher knows that the child requires further specialized examination. This allows us to reach many more children whilst they are, perhaps, in school", he said.
Governor Fashola, however, pointed out, "But the job does not stop in school. Parents have very big responsibility in this regard. The children have told us that they understand that nutrition is very critical, vitamins and all. So mothers who are here, it is your own responsibility.
"They have told us that they understand that sharp objects can be a danger in the home so parents have the responsibility to keep children away from sharp objects and sharp objects away from children. They are also to ensure that children who show manifest defect get the appropriate intervention by prescribed personnel not self medication. So Opticians and Optometrists are the people to see", he said.
On the importance of the message, the Governor said, "It is important because children who cannot see cannot do well in class and if they do so it is with a struggle", adding that Government is currently training teachers and going inside the schools to see what is wrong. "This is one of the things that is wrong, this is one of the things that we think that if we improve, will improve the learning environment", he said.
The Governor thanked the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education for their collaboration in driving the initiative adding that the credit must go to the Nigerian Optometrists Association which initially came up with the idea.
"It was they (Nigerian Optometrists Association), who sent to me this e-mail while continuing in the groundbreaking and illustrious blindness prevention programme initiated by my predecessor and this e-mail set us thinking about how we could involve teachers and students in expanding the blindness prevention programme. It was that e-mail that has this board and its operational requirements that I sent to the Ministry. The rest, as they say, is history. We are here today", he said.
Also thanking the parents and teachers and others for being a part of the event, the Governor expressed the hope that they would take the message away and also take the responsibilities that go with it adding that the teachers would also make use of the Vision Corridor.
In his remarks earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said the purpose of the board was to make it simple for the children to be able to undertake the eye tests themselves adding that the teachers have also been empowered to carry out the tests.
He said the Vision Corridors have been created with the Vision Field Board which is a vision testing board that contains instructions which people can follow to carry out their eye tests themselves adding that if they find any impairment they could then see the doctors who would prescribe the right treatment.
The Commissioner, who said 2002 teachers (two teachers for each of the 1001 primary schools in the State) have been trained to conduct the tests, added that so far 185 Vision Corridors have been installed while 180 others are being made and installed.
Also in her remarks earlier, the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, said the Vision Field Board was an intervention by the State Government to enable the people detect their eye defects at an early period to enhance treatment adding that the event was starting with the children as leaders of tomorrow.
Also present at the occasion were Secretary to the State Government, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule, Special Adviser on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adesina, traditional and community leaders as well as other top government functionaries.