According to the WHO report on World’s population of blind, India is now home to the world’s largest number of blind population. Out of 37 million of world’s population of blind, 15 million are from India and ironically 80% of these are cases of avoidable blindness. Despite extensive efforts by the government and social organizations, many of the visually impaired are beyond the reach of basic eye care. Acute shortage and skewed distribution of eye care professionals at all levels is certainly one of the major reason attributed to this insufficiency of eye health infrastructure in the country.
In the given scenario “Socio economic empowerment of young women through Vision Care Technician Training” becomes a midlevel ophthalmic course to meet the demand of trained eye care professionals in India. This program distinctively directed towards empowering young women coming from poor socio economic sections of society and at the same time develop the human resources to meet the eye care needs of country.
This special vocational course was initiated at SEF, India in the year 2002. Under this program meritorious high school graduate girls from disadvantaged sections of society have been identified and trained in sphere community eye care through two years diploma course. The program is completely subsidized by Sankara where the selected candidates do not have to pay any capitation fee or a tuition fee for the course.
The Vision Care Technician students are all provided free accommodation and stipends during the training period, that enables them able to bear their own expenses without putting unnecessary financial burden on their families.
On successful completion of the program candidates are given employment at Sankara Eye Hospital India.
The two years course is designed to cover subjects on eye care and prepares a VCT to assist an eye doctor in Outpatient Departments, Ward, Operation Theatre & Outreach camps. They are trained to do the preliminary eye examination, general health check, perform basic investigation, counselling and take overall care of the patients. They are trained at various Sankara units through a combination of lectures, demonstrations and on job practical training in various facets of eye care including community outreach, hospital outpatient care and operation theatre techniques. There is an ongoing evaluation of the program and a final assessment is done on completion of course.
Apart from the technical knowledge these girls are provided training for communication skills, language & personality grooming. They come to the institution as an innocent teenager, unaware of their capabilities, with no exposure to outside world. This two year course & training program not only enriches them with the technical knowledge but also brings in a complete transformation in their personality, mind-set and behaviour. At the completion of course they turn out to be confident, groomed and moreover self-sufficient who are ready to face the challenges of world outside.
This training course is currently being offered at the Sankara Eye Foundation India headquarters which is located in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India. Since its inception, over 800 Vision Care Technicians have benefited from this training program. In the long run this initiative would provide a platform to educate the young students and transform them into a skilled resource. This means decreased dependence of trainees on their families for their daily needs and support, a nd empowering the youth, especially women, to become economically independent and also able to support their family.
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