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Free eyeglasses project to benefit 130,000 students

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A student at a high school in Kampong Cham province receives an eye examination on June 22. MoEYS

Free eyeglasses project to benefit 130,000 students

A senior education official said the capital and 15 provinces would be targeted for a project that would provide eyeglasses to school students.

It is estimated that about 130,000 students would benefit from the project, established by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in collaboration with Ministry of Health and the Fred Hollows Foundation in Cambodia.

Education ministry secretary of state Kim Sethany said in a June 24 press conference that Phnom Penh and 15 provinces would benefit from the project, named “Expanding the scope of corrective lenses and improving the financing model for providing eyeglasses in Cambodia”.

“In these provinces and the capital, 20 head teachers and 1,300 health teachers will be trained to use new health textbooks and conduct eyesight checks at schools,” she said.

She said the ministry would publish health textbooks for grades 1-12 and produce video lessons on eye heath education, as well as measuring students’ eyesight.

Bak Tokyo, country representative of The Fred Hollows Foundation, was pleased to collaborate with the ministry.

“We will continue our efforts to support the government and its policy of strengthening eye health at hospitals and schools. It is vital that today’s children and the next generation receive quality eye health education services,” he said.

The project will be carried out in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Kampot, Kampong Speu, Kampong Thom, Kandal, Kratie, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Sihanouk, Preah Vihear, Prey Veng, Ratanakkiri, Siem Reap, Svay Rieng and Tbong Khmum.

Cheng Lim Hoan, director of the Preah Vihear provincial education department, said he did not have data on the number of students who need corrective lenses, but anecdotally, he believed the number of students whose eyesight and hearing is beginning to fail has increased in the last few years.

He added that this was likely a side effect of the increased use of smartphones by children, noting that they often played a lot of games.

“I support this project because it will educate students about the importance of eye health. If it can convince them to put their phones down for a while, it will have a positive impact,” he said.

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