Working together for better education

Ajan Somphet dreams of giving his students in Laos the best possible education to take with them on their journey through life. Our project called «High-Quality Education for Children from Ethnic Minorities in Bokeo Province» is helping him take one step closer to his dream.

Bokeo Province, northwestern Laos: Ajan Somphet is a teacher in the village of Namphet. There are 31 students in his class. A total of five teachers work at the school, three of whom are unpaid volunteers. The teachers lack the technical expertise and skills to cope with such a challenge. The lack of high quality education for children from ethnic minorities is a major problem.

Further training for a better future

«20 % of all school-age children cannot attend primary school for financial reasons,» explains Ajan Somphet. He would also like to see better training opportunities for teachers because this is the only way that students can receive an excellent education. There are many indigenous languages in Laos, but the official language is Lao. Many schoolage children, such as seven-year-old Chaiher, have a different native language. Although lessons are delivered in Lao, at home he speaks Hmong. This makes lessons and interacting with the other children difficult. Foreign languages such as English are taught from third grade, although the teachers are not usually trained in how to teach it.

Lessons in large classes

Due to the lack of space, it is common for several grades to be taught in a single classroom at once. Given that the teachers have no training in how to teach to multiple classes, the lessons are difficult. Owing to the lack of infrastructure, many tasks are more difficult than they need be, for example creating learning materials.

Advantages for young and old

Our «High-Quality Education for Children from Ethnic Minorities in Bokeo Province » project is helping to counteract these problems. It aims to facilitate better access to quality education for children from rural and remote regions. Teachers in the project can learn how to teach children who speak a language other than Lao, for example, so that each pupil has the same opportunity to participate in the lesson. Teacher training revolves around three core areas. The first is training in the use of child-centric teaching methods. These methods are used to give children cultural knowledge, an environmental awareness and craft skills. Secondly, the teachers are trained in how to teach multiple year groups at once. And thirdly, training is provided in how to adapt lesson plans to the educational needs of local children. This means the students can benefit from an education tailored to their particular circumstances.

Many children from linguistic minorities, such as seven-year-old Chaiher (centre), benefit from the teaching language - Lao - being integrated as a second language in the curriculum.