Senegal: Eye Glasses Prevent School Drop-outs


In a developing country like Senegal, a seemingly minor health condition like being nearsighted can cause students to drop out of school because the cost of prescription eyeglasses is beyond their reach. Handicap International, which has been running an inclusive education project in Senegal,[1] since 2014, screens students for impairments that might impact their ability to learn and ensures they receive treatment.

Adama Awa Ba, 12, was one of the program’s first beneficiaries. “I could never read what the teacher was writing on the black board,” says Adama, who is nearsighted.  “I never wanted to go up to the board because I was ashamed." As Adama’s eyesight worsened, her grades went downhill. She wanted to stay at home to avoid the embarrassment. Her parents were worried, but with prescription glasses costing $100, they did not have the financial means to help her.

In 2014 and 2015, Handicap International conducted medical screenings in 31 primary schools in Dakar. Out of the 18,850 children, 1,038 students, including Adama, were diagnosed with various impairments, largely minor visual and hearing problems. Handicap International gave Adama and 150 other children with vision problems corrective eyeglasses.

Adama can now follow her lessons again. "I want to become a doctor to help other children like me," says  Adama.

[1] With the support of UNICEF and AFD