Ethnic minority children in Laos often struggle in school because they lack knowledge of the Lao language. With the help from the Norwegian Save the Children, hundreds of kids now have the opportunity to get a better start in life, with pre-school education.
Save the Children Norway has been working in Laos for more than 20 years. The organization, with Norad funding, has developed an innovative programme to “bridge the gaps” of remoteness, ethnicity and language.
The programme is focused on pre-school education, in three of the poorer provinces in the country; Sayaboury, Luang Prabang, and more recently in Bolikhamsay.
Norway’s Ambassador to Laos received a warm welcome when he visited Save the Children Norway’s pre-schools.
The programme funds the construction of pre-school classrooms in remote areas and provides training for pre-school teachers from ethnic minority communities. The aim is to prepare ethnic minority children, who often cannot understand or speak the Lao language, for primary school education.
Norway’s Ambassador to Laos, Mr. Ståle Risa, travelled to Luang Prabang on June 2nd and met with Provincial Governor Dr. Khampheng Xaysompheng and government officials in the education field to discuss the programme. He was accompanied by Mr. John Reinstein, Country Director for Save the Children Norway and his staff.
A field trip to the Pak Xeng district the next day provided an opportunity for the Ambassador to see for himself the impressive accomplishments of the programme. Two villages were visited; first the village of Hat Houay, which is a predominately Khmu community, and then the village of Houy Pho, a mixed community with both Hmong and Khmu people.
In Hat Houay the Ambassador had the chance to enjoy some time with the young pre-schoolers, who demonstrated – with great enthusiasm – their abilities and happiness at being able to attend class and learn the Lao language.
The village elders later explained how important the pre-school programme had been for the community.
In Houy Pho, visited afterwards, the pre-school building has just been completed, and so the first pre-schoolers here will attend class after the summer. But the Ambassador had a chance to meet and talk to the young newly trained pre-school teacher, who has just completed her 30 week training course. She was now preparing for the first batch of children and was very excited.
After two days in the province of Luang Prabang, and after visiting the villages of Hat Houay and Houy Pho in Pak Xeng district, the Ambassador left for Vientiane – very much impressed by what Save the Children Norway had accomplished, not only for the ethnic minority children of the mountain villages in Luang Prabang but also for development efforts in Laos.