When health is at risk, so is learning
Planning for inclusive school health programming in Cambodia
At the completion of the School Health Integrated Program (SHIP) in Cambodia, partners reflect on its achievements in getting children screened for worms and vision problems, to ensure their health didn't get in the way of their learning in school.
July 09, 2018 by Liesbeth Roolvink, UNESCO|
Participants from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Health, Fred Hollows Foundation and Sightsavers are testing the vision screening costing tool together
CREDIT: Eath Vuthy

Last month, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) in Cambodia conducted a workshop to discuss project outcomes and mark the completion of its School Health Integrated Program (SHIP).

This initiative is funded by GPE with the World Bank as grant agent and implemented by Sightsavers and partners to promote inclusive school health programming and integration in sector policies and plans.

SHIP is a multi-country program with a strong focus on two low-cost health interventions: school-based vision screening and deworming, as issues in these areas can clearly impact learning outcomes.

Cambodia has had a unique approach to SHIP’s implementation as it is the only country where the program is led and implemented directly by the ministry of education.

For specific technical expertise, MoEYS signed an agreement with the Fred Hollows Foundation for the provision of teacher training on basic vision screening and supervision/follow up in schools, including the provision of glasses for students who needed them.

This is a new and innovative approach that changes the traditional partnership arrangements between government and NGOs as it allows MoEYS to provide stronger leadership to initiatives such as SHIP, which has demonstrated to increase government ownership.

His Excellency Put Samith, Director General of the Department of General Education at MoEYS

His Excellency Put Samith, Director General of the Department of General Education at the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport

Photo Credit: Eath Vuthy

During the workshop, His Excellency Put Samith, Director General of the Department of General Education at MoEYS shared that SHIP has enabled the relevant stakeholders to work together on an analysis of the global trends in inclusive education and school health financing.

In addition, the team conducted a thorough review of current school health programming in Cambodia using the SABER tool from the World Bank. Lastly, an in-depth school-based vision screening costing study was led by Sightsavers to enable a better understanding of the budget requirements for nation-wide scale up in Cambodia.

There were 3 key technical departments responsible for project implementation with involvement from NGO partners and the Ministry of Health. Coordination can be a challenge with so many active stakeholders but the demonstrated commitment and effective communication of all involved led to the positive SHIP results, which provide a solid foundation for future programming.

SHIP facilitated a cost analysis for school-based vision screening, which was based on actual project implementation in 2016, when 12,400 primary school students were screened, 72 students received glasses and 21 children were given a referral to the hospital and/or school for the blind.

The cost analysis led to the development of a customized budget planning tool for MoEYS on school-based vision screening in Cambodia, following the SHIP model and global vision screening guidelines.

After the training Dr. Sieng Sokha, School Health Department, reflected on the presented budgeting tool and said: “This tool is not only valuable for future planning of vision screening activities in schools but also allows our team to add other health interventions so that it can become a comprehensive integrated program”.

This is exactly what the SHIP project aimed for: enabling MoEYS and partners to conduct relevant analyses and develop practical planning tools for inclusive education and school health. These will better inform MoEYS leadership during the upcoming preparation of the new Education Strategic Plan 2019-2023, based on evidence.

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East Asia and Pacific: Cambodia

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