Strengthening the capacity of village facilitators

A joint initiative between the Ministry of Education and Sports and UNICEF is being implemented in three provinces in Lao PDR to ensure that young children are prepared for learning in schools.

Risa Kojima
Early childhood Education
©UNICEF Laos/2020
08 July 2021

Ms. Laokham is a village facilitator in Saravanh province of Lao PDR. Her primary responsibility as a village facilitator is to help ensure that young children between four to five years old are ready for learning in schools by engaging them in various learning activities at the Community-Based School Readiness (CBSR) centre.

Village facilitators like Ms. Laokham are a vital component of the UNICEF-supported CBSR Programme, a joint initiative between the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and UNICEF. The objective of the CBSR Programme is to help Lao PDR meet its national targets of an increased equitable access to quality early childhood education (ECE) services through a community-based intervention in remote and disadvantaged areas of the country. It uses a community-based approach to improve the capacity to implement and monitor inclusive, equitable and quality ECE services.

To support village CBSR facilitators like Ms Laokham in performing her duties, a CBSR facilitator guidebook was developed in 2017, with the first training on its use conducted in Lakhonpheng district of Saravanh province from 23 to 28 November, 2020. A total of 30 village facilitators from 15 newly established CBSR centres participated in the training, including Ms. Laokham.

Although the distance from her village to the training site is about 15 km, Ms. Laokham came to the meeting with high hopes and enthusiasm. Ms. Laokham, along with the other participants, enjoyed and were very active participants during the training.

“This was the first time that I participated in this kind of training. I learned a lot about the daily activities that are in line with the first three units of the CBSR Facilitator Guidebook (My Body, My Family, and My Classroom) to support children to learn through play,” shared Ms. Laokham.

(©UNICEF Laos/2020
Ms. Laokham, a CBSR facilitator in Saravanh province, engaging in a role-play activity during the six-day CBSR training supported by UNICEF.

In the training, participants received the necessary knowledge and skills to become a CBSR facilitator via group discussions and activities, including role-play. The knowledge and skills that the village facilitators acquired in the training will help them plan and conduct daily activities to enhance children’s literacy and numeracy skills at the CBSR centres in preparation for school.

“I do not regret volunteering to become a village facilitator. I will use all the knowledge and skills that I have gained from this training to ensure that young children are well prepared for school through my work at the CBSR centre,” said Ms. Laokham.

“To ensure the quality of learning at the CBSR centres, support and coaching from the district ECE staff during monitoring supervision are also needed,” she further noted.

Currently, the CBSR programme is being implemented in the provinces of Saravanh, Savannakhet and Phongsaly, benefiting about 3,000 Lao children. In response to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, more learning materials were printed and distributed in the CBSR centres so that children have the necessary materials to continue their learning journey.

The funding received from the Korean Committee for UNICEF (KCU) will support the achievement of the Lao PDR Government’s education goals through the provision of early childhood education (ECE) opportunities with parenting support to one of the poorest and most educationally disadvantaged provinces of the country.  In particular, this project will contribute to the expansion of the community-based school readiness (CBSR) programme being implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) with the support of UNICEF to improve the quality of ECE services in remote and poor communities.