Improving health and nutrition
in schools

The Sightsavers-supported School Health Integrated Programming project, known as SHIP, screens schoolchildren for health problems and provides spectacles and treatment where needed.

12-year-old Nayab got her eyes tested at school in Islamabad, Pakistan, where she received glasses for refractive error. © Sightsavers/Saiyna Bashir

Children in poorer countries miss many days of school every year because of common health issues such as worm infections, short-sightedness or poor nutrition.

Yet these problems can be easily diagnosed and treated if children have access to reliable health services.

The School Health Integrated Programming (SHIP) project began with a pilot in 2016, funded by the World Bank, to screen schoolchildren in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal for vision and health problems such as refractive error or worm infections. The pilot aimed to raise awareness, provide treatment and encourage governments to improve health and nutrition in schools: the goal was to reduce absenteeism and drop-out rates, and boost children’s educational prospects.

As part of SHIP, teachers are taught about major eye conditions affecting their region, and are trained to examine their students and record their findings. Children with vision problems are then referred to a team of mobile optometric technicians, who can travel to the school and provide free spectacles.

Any children found to be suffering from or at risk of worm infections are treated with deworming medication. The teachers are also trained to educate their students about eye health and personal hygiene, with the children encouraged to share what they learn with their families.

A woman wearing glasses holds one hand over her right eye during an eye test.

What is refractive error?

Refractive errors are eye disorders caused by irregularity in the shape of the eye. This makes it difficult for the eyes to focus images clearly, and vision can become blurred and impaired.

About refractive error
500 million
school days are missed due to health issues
students screened through SHIP since 2018
teachers trained in Liberia to screen children

Where does the programme run?

SHIP in Liberia

The SHIP programme launched in Liberia in 2018 in partnership with the ministry of health and the ministry of education, with funding from Dubai Cares.

Initially scheduled to run for three years, it will now continue until 2025, and has been expanded to cover an additional county.

So far, the project has screened 117,997 children across 1,000 schools and trained four optometric technicians to diagnose the children identified by trained teachers through the initial school screening.

The Liberian government is also working on integrating SHIP practices into all schools so it can continue providing long-term, sustainable care after the project comes to an end.

SHIP in Pakistan

Launched in Pakistan in 2019, the programme is running until February 2024 in partnership with the ministry of education, the College of Ophthalmology and Allied Vision Sciences, the National Committee for Eye Health and Al Shifa Trust Eye Hospital.

More than 300 teachers have been trained to assess pupils and 63,544 children have already been screened in 190 schools. As part of the project, screening guidelines will also be included in the teacher’s curriculum.

Sightsavers Pakistan co-produced an award-winning film called Noor, which was inspired by the SHIP project and tells the story of a young girl who receives glasses to correct refractive error through her school.

Want to learn more about our work?

Sightsavers and education

More about the SHIP project

A girl has her eyes tested.
Sightsavers stories

Stories from the SHIP eye health project in Pakistan

Sightsavers’ eye health screening project in Pakistan is helping children see and learn all over the country. We listen to stories of some of the children we have helped.

Illustration of an eye test.
Sightsavers blog

It’s all about the numbers: how economics is helping us to save sight in schools

By using economics, we can make sure our school eye screening programmes are affordable and efficient, ensuring thousands of children in poorer countries can get the eye care they need.

Guillaume Trotignon, July 2019
A group of children sit in a line on a bench waiting to be tested for river blindness.
Sightsavers blog

How an innovative school programme is improving health in Liberia

Sightsavers' integrated school health programme aims to improve the lives of more than 76,000 children through deworming and eye screening.

Adoley Sonii, May 2019