Demonstrating commitment to the eradication of vision impairment, one of the world’s most significant health problems, non-profit organisation, RestoringVision, telehealth technology company, Visibly, and New Globe in partnership with the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board’s (LASUBEB) EKOEXCEL, have concluded the distribution of free reading glasses to teachers and pupils in all the 20 Local Government Education Areas (LGEAs) in the state.
The second phase of the exercise, which commenced in 2020 to enable teachers to discharge their duties effectively and assist pupils with sight issues, happened on February 14 and 15.
The free sight assessment and distribution of reading glasses were also part of EKOEXCEL’s efforts to reduce the prevalence and causes of blindness and visual impairment.
According to data from the 2005/2007 National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey, an estimated 1.13 million individuals aged 40 years are currently blind in Nigeria. 2.7 million adults aged 40 years live with moderate visual impairment, while additional 400,000 adults are severely visually impaired. Overall, 4.25 million adults aged 40 years in Nigeria are visually impaired or blind.
One of the beneficiaries and a school teacher, Adetohun Kazeem, hailed the gesture, noting that it had made preparations for her classes easier while aiding movement. “I had been saving towards getting an eye test and getting the required medication glasses because of my sight issues. The free test and glasses from EKOEXCEL were God-sent. It was like a special Valentine’s gift from a caring lover who knows all my needs,” she said.
A student beneficiary, 10-year-old primary 6 pupil of Lagos State Model Nursery & Primary School, Nathan Chukwu, also expressed gratitude for the timely intervention, disclosing that he had problems seeing the whiteboard before he got the free eye test and glasses.
He said, “My class teacher had to move me to the front of the class after realising that I suddenly started having trouble seeing the whiteboard from where I used to sit in the middle. I am grateful to EKOEXCEL for helping me solve this problem.”
A grateful parent whose child also benefited from the intervention, John Adegbenga thanked the LASUBEB’s EKOEXCEL for the thoughtful initiative, noting that good vision is vital for teachers and pupils.
Further praising EKOEXCEL, Adegbenga said it had demonstrated care and passion for teachers and students to have a good vision in their quest to work and earn money, acquire knowledge, and stay safe.
“The provision of free eye tests and reading glasses to teachers and our children by EKOEXCEL will boost efforts to improve the quality of teaching and equitable learning opportunities. We know that eye tests and prescription glasses are pricey, given the current financial situation. They have largely relieved us of that burden, and we are grateful. A good vision will enable teachers to discharge their duties effectively, and students will learn fast as they won’t suffer any impairment,” he said.
RestoringVision has dedicated nearly two decades of work to remove the barriers to delivering clear vision and creating equitable access to eyeglasses worldwide. Their work began with basic vision screening and reading glasses and has more recently expanded to serving children and adults with the prescription glasses they need. By partnering with Visibly, beneficiaries received prescription eyewear after completing Visibly’s online vision test. The results will be clear, allowing them to see the chalkboard and their world.
“Our philosophy at RestoringVision is that by collaborating with partners and curating projects such as this, we can accelerate results,” said Pelin Munis, Executive Director of RestoringVision. “What better results than ensuring that 5,000 school children can now see clearly because of the collaboration between RestoringVision, Visibly, and NewGlobe. We are honored to be a part of this pilot program and believe the impact is only just beginning.”
“Since day one, Visibly’s mission has been to provide vision resources to anyone, anywhere and at any time,” said Brent Rasmussen, CEO of Visibly. “Seeing clearly should be a right; we believe that vision prescriptions should be accessible and affordable to everyone, and we’re eager to provide these services to those in need around the globe.”
The free eye-screening and glasses distribution exercise was also a fulfilment of the promise made by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to teachers during the graduation of the EKOEXCEL Pre-service Professional Development and Technology Training Programme in 2020
He had assured that the exercise would be continuous to ensure that teachers could effectively teach and students learn without stress.
Governor Sanwo-Olu launched EKOEXCEL in 2019. Since then, it has radically transformed public primary schools, with pupils and teachers as the main beneficiaries.
It has moved over 18,000 headteachers and teachers from analogue to digital teaching, using tablets and an updated curriculum. EKOEXCEL has also enhanced the teacher-pupil interaction experience through technology (eLearning) in Lagos State primary schools.