Learning is Visual

The Learning is Visual (LiV) project is a NORHED II-funded project.

bilde av Gunvor Birkeland Wilhelmsen

Gunvor Birkeland Wilhelmsen

Project manager

When vision functions are disturbed, pupils might struggle with reading, learning, concentration and endurance, even with motor activities. Teachers have little insight into these issues.

Due to the lack of resources in health systems and the lack of attention given to vision in society at large, many countries such as Tanzania, do not have mandatory vision screening.

Course for teachers

The Learning is Visual (LiV) project is a NORHED II-funded project. In cooperation with Patandi Teachers College of Special Needs Education in Tanzania and Tanzania Institute of Education Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, HVL, will contribute in developing a research-based CPD-course in Vision for learning for teachers and special needs teachers.

Planning activities at Patandi, september 2021.

Master’s in special needs education

At the University of Dodoma there will be established a master’s in special needs education with focus on vision problems. Both these activities are designed to ensure a better education for all pupils. The goal is that we together will reach out to all levels of the school system and disseminate competencies on the role of vision for learning.

Cooperation meeting September 2021 with representatives from all partners: University of Dodoma, Tanzania Institute of Education, Patandi College of Special Needs Education and Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.

Research on visual needs in schools and on teachers' competencies developement

At both institutions the students will learn why pupils struggle in school and how vision connects to learning; specifically, they will receive instruction in assessing vision, stimulation and educational methods and cooperation with the health system. All graduates will be qualified to do vision screening, supervise parents and teachers and refer pupils to eye specialists. Depending on their academic level of specialization, some graduates will be able to work in schools, assessment centres or special school units. Master’s students can pursue PhDs, work as tutors in teacher’s colleges or lecturers in universities, ensuring the project’s long-term sustainability.

Because reading is the most vision-intensive activity learned in school, teachers with competencies in vision can supervise colleagues in educational methods for reading and learning, and ensure that more pupils stay in school, succeed in their exams and get education and work.

Experienced vision teachers from the Vision 2030-project, Securing Education for children in Tanzania (2017-2021), at Patandi are an important resource for this next step of skills-building in Tanzania.

Read more about the project


Workshop at Tanzania Institute of Education, september 2021. Participant from Patandi teachers College of Special needs Education, TIE and HVL.

Articles connected to the project

Felder, M., Wilhelmsen, G. B. & Schneider, K. (2021). Developing “Vision for Learning” Competencies among Teachers in Tanzania – An Innovative Higher Education Initiative. Creative Education, 12, 82-102.  

Wilhelmsen, G. B. (2016). School starters’ vision – An educational approach. Improving Schools, 1-13. 

Wilhelmsen, G. B., Aanstad, M. I. & Leirvik, E. I. B. (2015). Implementing vision research in special needs education. Improving schools, 30(2), 134-149. 

Wilhelmsen, G. B. & Knudsen, E. (2020). Reading starts as a vision process. In B. Hvidsten, I.

Kuginyte-Arlauskiene, G. Söderlund (Eds), Adapted Training and Special Needs Education in Theory and Practice [Tilpasset opplæring og spesialpedagogikk i teori og praksis]. Fagbokforlaget.

Wilhelmsen, G. B., Eide, M. G. & Felder, M. (2021). Assessment of eye movements and selected vision function tests in three pupils with albinism: A case study in Tanzania. British Journal of  Visual Impairment. 

Wilhelmsen, G. B. & Felder, M. (2021). Learning is Visual: Why Teachers Need to Know about Vision. Chaper 9 in S. Waller, L. Waller, V. Mpofu & Kurebwa, M. (Eds.), Education at the intersection of globalization and technology.

Wilhelmsen, G. B. & Felder, M. (2021). About the importance of vision screening by teachers in schools: A study from Tanzania. Improving schools, 1-18.

Wilhelmsen, G. B. & Felder, M. (2021). Structured visual learning and stimulation in school: An intervention study. Creative Education, 12, 757-775.