Multilingual online platform provides breakthrough in optometry education

MEDIA RELEASE            

More than 600 million people globally speak either French, Spanish or Portuguese and a breakthrough in optometric education will now result in many millions of these having greater access to eye care in their local communities.

The multilingual development of the Global Optometry Resource platform, initially launched in June 2012 by the Brien Holden Vision Institute, is now operational in three new languages: French, Spanish and Portuguese. Three teaching modules are now available in the new languages with more modules currently in development, planned to be ready for release later this year.

This new development opens up for the first time the no cost online learning resources to non-English speaking communities keen to progress in eye care education. There are more than 350 million native Spanish speakers, and Portuguese and French speakers are listed as 175 million and 75 million respectively, which are spoken widely across much of the African and Americas regions.

Professor Brien Holden, CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute spoke on the Institute’s global strategy, “This a landmark development for eye care services globally. We can now reach a vast new audience by offering free education resources in the languages desperately needed to help train a greater amount of eye care professionals. The Africa region has a population of over one billion and many people speaking either Portuguese or French will greatly benefit, as will Latin America who also have a large population who speak predominately Spanish and or Portuguese,” Holden said.

The shortfall of educators and teaching material has made eye care education more complicated in the developing world, and has not only affected the quality of education received but also impacted the amount of students graduating and their capacity to meet the vast public health challenges.

Dr Luigi Bilotto, Director of Global Human Resource Development at the Institute, explained how the multilingual platform will benefit the global communities. “Remember that for many countries there are still no optometrists, no optometry courses and no access to eye care education, which means that access to eye care is simply not possible,” he said. “So the multilingual extension to our platform should not only have a direct and significant effect on the growth and development of the eye care industry, but also promote global community health and assist in the eradication of poverty.”

Increasing optometric education capacity where previously limited access existed is the leading motivation behind developing the multilingual extension of the resource platform. The platform creates a highly visible, long lasting footprint in the development of eye care across the world for emerging optometry programs by facilitating access to quality teaching and learning materials in multiple languages.

The Institute has been implementing and supporting optometry programs in collaboration with local partner universities in countries where there is need for optometry development. This includes 20 locations in the Africa region, Vietnam, India, Cambodia, China, Haiti and Sri Lanka.

Institute Global Programs Director, Professor Kovin Naidoo says, “The Institute is very dedicated to providing eye care education in developing countries worldwide where the need is greatest. We know an undertaking of this magnitude has to target a multilingual approach to effectively encourage rapid growth of global optometric care,” he said.

Naidoo continued, “Our online resource platform provides a stepping stone to global consistency in optometric education which, for maximum impact and effectiveness, needs to be provided as a multilingual resource, free of charge, to as many institutions as possible especially in countries with need.”


Facts about the Global Optometry Resource platform:

  • Optometric educational resources are now available in four languages; English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Once registered online access is free of charge and available to anyone
  • The content is a global collaboration by some of the finest optometric educators in the world
  • This resource gives access to the core teaching and learning units of an optometry degree program  
  • Modules are flexibly designed to meet the variations in different developing world contexts
  • Course notes and PowerPoint presentations are designed for students and educators

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Selina Madeleine, Communications Manager, Public Health Division, +61 414 071 149,