Pupils’ future is crystal clear

Vision testing was undertaken at Hout Bay Primary Schools, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Hout Bay.
Pupils had their eyes tested.

The Hout Bay Rotary Club’s Vision Project is ensuring the future is a little brighter for more than 100 Hout Bay pupils who have had their eyes test and received their new spectacles.

Vision testing was conducted at Disa, Hout Bay, Kronendal, Oranjekloof and Sentinel primary schools, where screening had been scheduled to start in January, but was delayed by the school closures.

The Vision Project is overseen by the Rotary Club of Hout Bay’s Community Services team and uses the services of expert testers and a paediatric optometrist from the Jonga Trust.

Project manager Carolyn Herrick said primary school pupils had received new glasses, thanks to the Rotary Club of Hout Bay and the Jonga Trust.

“The Rotary Club of Hout Bay is committed to helping address sight problems so that these students will have a much improved chance of learning and progressing through school,” she said.

On Tuesday May 11, the vision testing crew finished testing at Silikamva High School, where they focused on Grade 10s but also tested any pupils in other grades who the teachers felt might have problems with their vision.

“In Grade 10, we found 17% of those tested needed glasses, that is 24 learners out of 139 tested,” Ms Herrick said.

She explained that among the other grades, they tested 92 pupils and found that 40 pupils needed glasses.

“So, overall we will be delivering glasses to 64 pupils at Silikamva High School,” Ms Herrick said.

Head of department at Silikamva High School, Hene Zanele, welcomed the initiative.

“Pupils were very excited about this event and it really made a huge impact since they needed the glasses,” Ms Zanele said.

She explained that pupils who had poor eyesight struggled to stay focused in the classroom.

“They always strain their eyes when working in class because of this problem and it makes teaching very hard,” Ms Zanele said.

“There was happiness that was written in their faces, some were saying out loud that they had eyesight problems from primary school, but their families couldn’t afford to buy them (spectacles).”

A pilot programme conducted in March 2019 at Disa Primary School, revealed that almost 15% of the pupils had eyesight problems and needed spectacles, with several also needing to be relocated in their classroom. About 1 100 pupils from the five schools in Hout Bay have already benefited from the initiative (“Brighter future for Hout Bay”, Sentinel News, October 9, 2020).

Head of Department at Kronendal Primary School, Kerry McCraw, said they truly valued the assistance of the Vision Project.

Ms McCraw explained that the service provided was important to the community as many young people were unaware of their vision impairments.

“The sooner we can test and assist them, the better their schooling experience will be as they can take part in their education without eyesight discomfort and limitations.”

She added that going through the process with peers in the school environment meant that it was a less intimidating experience the children.

Hout Bay Primary School principal, Nobuntu Mayekiso, said pupils who were visually impaired struggled academically, their self esteem was affected and sometimes caused problems for teachers.

She confirmed that 153 pupils at the school had been tested, 12 of whom had needed spectacles.

“The Vision Project has improved the learner’s vision in the class and also improved the pupils self-esteem tremendously and all the parents were also grateful about this,” Ms Mayekiso said.

She added that she had already started seeing improvements in the classroom, particuarly in the pupils reading skills.

“The project had a positive impact on the learning process of those tested learners. The school appreciates what Rotary Club has done for our pupils. This has changed their lives and we are looking forward to training where teachers will be trained on how to identify learners with visual problems,“ Ms Mayekiso said.

The Vision Project also provided vision training for more than 50 teachers and assistants to help them identify vision problems in the classroom and show them small changes they can make in the classroom to help prevent pupils from developing vision problems in future.

“We hope to be able to roll this out to the other Hout Bay schools next year, when we have more funding,” Ms Herrick said.