Howes’s vision helps needy pupils

Focus on teachers, thanks to eye expert

THOBOSHANA Primary School had some generous visitors last week. Geoff Howes, retired ophthalmologist and Rotarian, and his team performed and taught teachers how to perform eye tests for the pupils of Thoboshana.

“Vision is so important in learning. Any visual impairment is detrimental to these kids’ lives,” said Howes. “We need to give these kids the ability to see properly and support their learning experience.”

Howes and his team- consisting of optometric assistant at his practice, Kirsty-Leigh McCornston and Rotary Arcadia president-elect Derek Miller – explained and taught teachers how to perform these eye tests. This included demonstrating how the eye works, how to test the children and how to record and read the results.

Once all the children have been tested, those who need glasses will receive a pair from St John’s Clinic who have agreed to produce them for R60 a pair. The Rotary Club of Arcadia will fund the purchase of these glasses.

Howes will also refer children to a specialist should their vision impairment require more professional assistance. Again, the club will take care of all the costs involved.

Howes and his team also provided the school teachers with the necessary equipment to take these tests so that future visual impairments can be detected and alleviated early on in a child’s schooling career.

“He is such a generous man,” said Howe’s life partner and Rotary member, Eliza Voges. “Life is like an ice- cream, if you don’t lick it, it melts away. With visual impairments these kids can’t have a proper learning experience, their lives will melt away.”

This generous and instrumental gesture by Howes and his team, is however, not the first of the Rotary Club of Arcadia’s involvement with the school.

The club has been affiliated with the farm school in Nahoon Valley since its founding in 1989. Together with the Emmanuel Mission, the club has been instrumental in the school’s founding and success over the years.

Starting out as a small farm school, catering to about 40 pupils from neighbouring farms, it has now blossomed into a school with over 300 pupils, many of whom travel from various townships around the area.

Over the last three years the Arcadia Rotary have renovated the school buildings and donated dustbins that are placed around the school grounds.

While the school is flourishing, it still lacks a lot of basic learning materials like a library, play materials in Grade R, and a computer lab. A fence around the school premises is also necessary to keep the children safe.

The club recently sponsored in-class-library cupboards and reading books and also funds the training of a new Grade R teachers. Rotary Arcadia is also working towards a better equipped Grade R classroom with educational decorations and play material to facilitate the learning experience.

TIME TO FOCUS: Geoff Howes demonstrates how to conduct eye tests for the children of Thoboshana Primary School. The teachers were given equipment in order to conduct these tests on their own Picture: MADELEINE CHAPUT

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