Advancing Education in Laos

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Not every student relishes the opportunity to sit in math class. But for Locher, a young boy who lives in the beautiful mountains of Laos, it was always something to celebrate.

From an early age, Locher’s parents noticed him carrying his books around with him and showing great interest in learning. They eventually decided to pay for him to study full time, even though this meant that the rest of the family would have to work harder in the fields.

When World Renew started to work with communities in the Muang Mai district of Phongsali province, the overall school attendance for school-age children like Locher was only 27 percent. In most villages, girls did not attend school at all.

All of this began to change in 2008, when World Renew collaborated with community members and the local government to construct school buildings in target villages.

After the schools were built, district authorities appointed teachers and covered their salaries. These cooperative efforts made it easier for parents to send their children to school and increased school attendance to 79 percent during the first phase of the project.

For students like Locher, the opportunity to go to school not only provides them with joy and hope today—it also paves the way for a brighter tomorrow. 

When Locher’s teacher noticed his talent in math, he was sent to a local competition, which he won. He then went on to a win a provincial competition.

Next, with travel cost support from World Renew, he was able to attend a national math competition—and won second prize! He was awarded a government scholarship that will allow him to advance his studies in Udomxay city.

Locher is the first person in his family to have an opportunity to continue with his studies, and his parents are proud of his success.  His younger siblings and friends now have him as a role model.

Through a new World Renew “school readiness” program, preschool age children in Laos also have the opportunity to first be educated in their native language and also learn Lao as their second language, so they know the official school language when they enter the first grade.

The program is proving to be especially helpful for children from ethnic minorities and for girls who have had limited education opportunities in the past.

Through community cooperation, dedicated teaching staff, and financial and prayer support, a new generation of eager, educated children are truly flourishing in the uplands of Laos.

About the Author

Adele Konyndyk is a communications writer for World Renew, a creative writer, and a member of First Hamilton Christian Reformed Church in Ontario.