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“Seeing is Learning” Project Kicks Off in Gangu County

Thursday, October 11th is World Sight Day, which raises global awareness about eye care. It was on this occasion that the opening ceremony for the “Seeing is Learning” project was held in Panshi Elementary School in the town of Xinxing, Gangu County.

Esteemed attendees of the ceremony included Dr. Zhang Linxiu, Deputy Director of the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Director of REAP-China, Dr. Ni Guoliang, Professor at the School of Politics and Administration of Lanzhou University, Ms. Xiao Jiafeng, Director of Business Development of Essilor China, Mr. Huo Weiping, Vice Mayor of Tianshui, Mr. Yang Shengli, Deputy Secretary-General of Tianshui, Mr. Fu Ping, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education of Tianshui, Mr. Shen Junming, Deputy Secretary of Gangu County, Ms. Dong Jun, Minister of the Publicity Department of Gangu County, and Ms. Pan Huiqin, Deputy Magistrate of Gangu County. A number of principals, teachers, parents and students of schools involved in the project also attended the ceremony. 

Dr. Zhang Linxiu, Deputy Director of the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Director of REAP-China describes the research behind the “Seeing is Learning” project.

Deputy Secretary-General Yang Shengli hosted the opening ceremony. Mr. Huo Weiping, Ms. Pan Huiqin, Dr. Zhang Linxiu, Dr. Ni Guoliang, Ms. Xiao Jiafeng, and representatives from the Department of Education and the Department of Health delivered speeches at the ceremony. Specifically, Dr. Zhang introduced her team and current research, and Dr. Ni gave a progress report on the “Seeing is Learning” project. Ms. Xiao Jiafeng spoke on behalf of the Essilor Group. Eyeglasses were also given to a number of shortsighted elementary school students at the ceremony.

Mr. Huo Weiping, Vice Mayor of Tianshui, warmly welcomed the guests and expressed his appreciation to the groups that provided special care to the development of children in the area. “Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Northwestern University, Lanzhou University and other research institutions have made great contributions to children in Tianshui. Starting in 2010, through the Nutrition and Health Education Project conducted in rural elementary schools in Tianshui, the institutions have raised the awareness of the importance of nutrition and health among children and simultaneously helped their development,” he said. 

“Seeing is Learning” is a project proposed by CAS, Northwestern University, Lanzhou University, and the Essilor Group. The project aims to spread knowledge about eye protection for children in rural schools so that they can have more opportunities to learn. It benefits the children in terms of preventing eye diseases and supporting their physical development. CAS, Northwestern University, Lanzhou University, and the Essilor Group are exemplary models for their selfless work to help rural children.

Mr. Huo also emphasized the importance of cooperation between different departments affiliated with city municipality, in order to lay a solid foundation for the implementation of the project. He also underscored the need to compile a collection of best practices that could benefit the development of more rural children and facilitate the growth of education and health services in Tianshui. 

The project was made possible by close collaboration among various institutions, municipalities, and the Essilor Group.

On behalf of several organizations in Gangu County, Ms. Pan Huiqin, Deputy Magistrate of Gangu County, expressed her warm welcome and appreciation to the Essilor Group, Dr. Zhang Linxiu, and other specialists for attending the opening ceremony. In her speech, she also addressed the progress that the county government has made in the past few years. “In recent years, the county government has focused on sustainable development and emphasized education as the way to improve the standard of living. The government prioritizes the funding, resources, human capital and policies related to education,” she said. “In this way, we have improved the quality of education in Gangu County significantly. Gangu County has set up a great example for improving educational services in the greater Tianshui area.”

However, Ms. Pan also emphasized the challenges faced by the county government. “Although we have achieved notable progress in our educational services, students are still anxious and their learning environment has yet to be improved. The children are likely to have health problems such as poor vision. Currently, many middle school and elementary school children have bad eyesight, which affects their studies and daily life negatively,” she said.

“The ‘Seeing is Learning’ project was developed through collaboration among Essilor Group, the Center for Agriculture Policy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Northwest Socioeconomic Development Research Center, Lanzhou University, and Tianshui’s Department of Education, with support from Tianshui municipal government. This project aims to protect the eyesight of rural school children, and as a result, increase their test scores. It is divided into 3 segments – eyesight exams, free eyeglass fittings, and vision care training. It is estimated that the project will benefit nearly 3000 children in 24 schools located in 10 towns. With a pair of eyeglasses, a shortsighted child can see the world clearly. Free glasses will also alleviate the financial burden for some families. After the project is implemented, we will be able to better understand the state of vision health among rural school children in the county, and help raise awareness about vision problems in children. The implementation of ‘Seeing is Learning’ will not only help the development of school children, but the project will also improve test scores, and the overall education quality in the county,” said Pan.

To read the article in Chinese, please click here.