Making an essential investment towards human resource development in Lao PDR.
UNICEF is working in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports to provide quality early childhood education at the village level.
For the past two years, Ms. Dalavan Keoboualapha has worked as a village facilitator in a Community-Based School Readiness Centre (CBSR) in Koudmum village, Saravane Province, where she lives. People from her village belong to the ethnic group of Khmu and speak this ethnic language. Since most people do not communicate in the national language, Lao, the young children struggle to make gains in the early years of education due to the language barrier.
To ensure children are not deprived of education in their formative years, UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), has been implementing the programme 'Improving Early Learning and Child Development' since 2017, with financial support from UNICEF Australia. This initiative aims to ensure that young children are school-ready for primary education.
The programme was launched to enhance school-Based Pre-Primary Education and build pre-primary teachers' capacity, expand Community-Based School Readiness (CBSR) Programmes and strengthen the District-level Education Planning and Management.
Ms. Keoboualapha is one of the village facilitators who received technical support as part of the programme.
"I want to see all my children understand Lao fluently during their pre-primary education," says Ms. Keoboualapha. "This will get them ready for the curriculum in the first year of primary school," she added.
Her class consists of 30 children, including 18 girls and 12 boys from the Khmu community. In her class, children have fun while learning through songs, drawing, using early childhood education toolkits and locally available materials such as sticks and stones to learn about colours, names of body parts, counting, alphabets, among other things.
Before being deployed as village facilitators in the communities, 180 people, including Ms. Keoboualapha, received training in three provinces of the country on how to conduct classes effectively. The training has been provided three times on various learning modules.
Apart from the training, the village facilitators also receive regular professional opportunities through monitoring and on-site coaching supported by the District education office to ensure the quality of teaching-learning offered and the communities' effective engagement.
"I will continue to work as a village facilitator to help the young children of my village. I want to see them become successful in the future," states Ms. Keoboualapha. " It makes me very proud to see how much progress they have done in the class. They have gained confidence and are able to understand Lao language better," she further adds.
Currently, the programme - 'Improving Early Learning and Child Development' is being implemented in three provinces: Saravane, Savannakhet and Phongsaly, directly benefiting about 3,000 children.