EU hands over 11 schools to Samphan District

Village leaders and education authorities in Samphan District, Phongsaly has received 11 new schools from the European Union built by the Basic Education Development in Northern Communities Project BENC.
The BENC Project, supported by the European Commission, officially handed the schools over to village authorities in Samphan district on the 30 of June. 11 schools the project has built while working to increase access to quality education in the northern communities of Lao PDR. The handover of these 11 schools takes the tally of schools built with EC support and funding to 71 across nine districts in three provinces. The official Handover Ceremony in Ban Phongkou on the 30th June 2009 were attended by the Vice Governor of Phongsaly, Mr Angfu Ali, BENC European Team Leader Mr Peter Gam, district officials, students and villagers from who receive new school buildings and furniture.
The BENC Project has been working in Lao PDR since 2005 in 430 ethnic minority villages in the three northern provinces of Phongsaly, Luang Nam Tha and Luang Prabang. BENC also works closely with Provincial and District Education Offices in providing workshops to develop the skills of over 1200 teachers and principals, and train teachers in 215 villages in NFE (Non-Formal Education) adult education techniques. The teachers and principals who work with BENC are responsible for teaching approximately 78,500 students, and 8,600 NFE students, in northern Lao communities. By the time the BENC Project finishes in January 2010, the EU will have contributed 6 million Euros to the Project.
The BENC Project is the first major bilateral education project in northern Lao PDR and is central in implementing the Lao Ministry of Education’s policy on education decentralization. The work of BENC is based on a participatory approach to education in which village community members are supported in making important decisions about education in their individual villages. Villagers are involved in all stages of Project implementation, including construction during which they contribute to decisions regarding planning, labor, materials and maintenance for the schools.

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