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Project Background

Based on a recent study completed by The Fred Hollows Foundation, it was found that over 91 per cent of visual impairment among school children in Cambodia was due to refractive error, with approximately 6.5 per cent of children experiencing difficulties.

Project Objectives

  • Eye health education to reach over 650,000 children and 17,000 school teachers 
  • Deliver quality eye care education at an early age 
  • Improve awareness and ensure treatment is provided early so that students are not disadvantaged during their school years due to poor vision


In 2014, the School Eye Health Education Program was taught as part of the Cambodian primary school curriculum to; 
  • 4,533 primary school teachers 
  • 265,800 students in years 1-6 

The Foundation was also able to partner with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to strengthen school policies on sanitation, hygiene and health checkups for children.

International Children’s Day

In Cambodia, International Children’s Day is a public holiday on June 1st and in 2014, The Fred Hollows Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport of Cambodia, used this celebration to promote the importance of eye health.

The Foundation hosted a drawing contest for primary school students in grades 4-6 within the five provinces that the program is operating.

The contest asked students to draw a picture which represented a daily activity or skill they had learned during class to care for their eyes and prevent eye health problems. An example would be studying in a well lit room. The students then had to present their drawings to the class with an explanation about how they have applied this skill at home or in the community.

Over 13,400 students participated in the drawing contest, with three national winners being announced.

The event provided a great opportunity for students to engage interactively with the education content. It also allowed for the message to reach the broader community through broadcast of the event in the media. Interviews and photographs of the contest and the eye health education program were published in three local newspapers and broadcast on three TV channels.

Project Feedback 

A midterm review of the project conducted in 2014 found that it was having a positive impact and that education officers, school directors, teachers and children showed an increased awareness of prevention measures to protect eyes from injury or disease.

Teachers are now able to identify when a student is suffering from poor vision and will provide children with glasses.

Traditional practices for treating eye problems have now been replaced with modern and hygienic versions and visits to eye units.

The report also found that the educational materials which were used in the eye health school curriculum were very useful to senior primary school students. A recommendation has been made to develop more age-appropriate material for the younger grades. This will be incorporated into plans for the program in 2015.

Overall, research has concluded that the School Eye Health Education Program is meeting an evident need and. The use of the school system to educate children has been determined as an efficient way to reach the largest proportion of children in the regions the project is operating.

There is significant evidence that the project is delivering positive outcomes in a very short timeframe which is meeting The Foundation’s aims of reducing childhood blindness.

What’s next? 

he Fred Hollows Foundation will continue to implement this first phase of the project until the end of 2015. During this time, refresher training will be provided to teachers and new educational materials will be developed for the lower primary school years.

A Scoping assessment to potentially roll out the training program into new provinces in Cambodia will be undertaken during 2015, with a detailed impact evaluation to be conducted in 2016. Phase 2 of the project will be developed based on these findings.

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