Laos | 31 January 2012

CWS-Asia/Pacific initiates new secondary school project in Phoukhua Village, Laos

In January 2012, Church World Service in Laos initiated the establishment of a new secondary school in Laos.

This project is being implemented in collaboration with local government partners from the District Education Office in Namo District and Oudomxay Provincial Education Department. Funding support is provided by CWS and Global Ministries.

This school will be located in Phoukhua Village in Oudomxay Province. It will provide lower secondary education (grades 6 to 9) to students from 8 other villages, some of which are as far as 20km away. The people living in this area, who are from the Khmu ethnic minority group, are poor : the average per-capita level of income is below $1 per day.

Presently, there are approximately 150 students attending the first and second years of lower secondary school (grades 6 and 7). These students are mostly from Phoukhua, where the temporary school is located.

CWS will expand the school facilities to include housing for teachers, boarding facilities for students, a kitchen and a dining room, as well as clean water and a sanitation system. Additionally, CWS will assist in providing training for the new teachers to be assigned to the school.

Children at a CWS-supported school in Laos. Photo: CWS-Asia/Pacific.

The enrollment of students will increase significantly when the new CWS-constructed dormitories and other facilities become available for boarding students from the eight surrounding villages. An informal survey by CWS staff indicated there are approximately 1,500 recently graduated (i.e. finished grade 5) primary students in the area, with an additional 200-300 new graduates every year, most of whom will attend secondary school when such facilities are available.

In previous years, CWS has worked intensively in this area, assisting in the establishment of primary schools, including the training of primary teachers. In recent years, as the primary school system has developed, CWS has shifted its focus to developing secondary education in these familiar program areas where working relationships are well established.

In Laos, a lack of capacity – or educational constraints – is the undeniable barrier to development, as identified by the Lao government and international aid partners. Research in Laos has shown that the level of education has a direct correlation with poverty rates – i.e. higher levels of education correlate with higher levels of income. There are similar correlations between increases in income with improving health indicators, agricultural production, nutritional levels, and environmental improvement.

In the area of Phoukhua, where the new school will be built, very few, if any, residents have completed a secondary education. With the development of the education system including primary and secondary schools, the Khmu people in this area will begin to have access to education and be enabled to attend university or make the most of other higher educational opportunities in the country.

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