Laos Projects - Basic Laotian Literacy Facts
An intensive literacy campaign was initiated in 1983-84, which mobilized educated persons living in villages and urban neighborhoods to bring basic reading and writing skills to over 750,000 people. Largely as a result of this campaign, those able to read and write had increased to an estimated 44 percent. Because few reading materials are available, especially in the rural areas, many newly literate people lose much of their proficiency after a few years. Because teachers are paid irregularly, they are forced to spend significant amounts of time farming or in other livelihood activities, with the result that in many locations classes are held for only a few hours a day. Because of irregular classes, overcrowding, and lack of learning resources, the average student needed 11 to 12 years to complete the five-year primary course in the late 1980s. Repetition rates ranged from 40 percent for the first grade to 14 percent for the fifth grade. Dropouts were a significant problem, with 22 percent of all entering first graders leaving school before the second grade. Although more school texts and general magazines are being printed, poor distribution systems and budgetary constraints limit their availability throughout the country. It is rare to see a book or any other reading material in rural villages, with the exception of political posters or a months-old edition of the newspaper Xieng Pasason ("Voice of the People") pasted on a house wall. One Million Words together with Bamboo Lounge training restaurant in Luang Namtha Province, Laos are working on a joint project to supply much needed text books to schools in Luang Namtha. The goal of “Books In Schools” is to provide enough text books for each student at each school in Luang Namtha one school at a time.
Laos Project: Muang Sing Primary School, Luang Namtha Province, Laos
In the mountains of northern Laos, between China and Myanmar, Muang Sing is one of Asia's most ethnically diverse regions. Ethnic children often have difficulty when they enter school. Traditionally, books have been rare in Laos. The number of children who go to school is slowly but steadily increasing, yet many children have never read a book outside of school textbooks. Few Lao people think that reading can be fun, can add to their education, or will provide information to improve their quality of life.
Laos Project: Oudomsinh Elementary School, Luang Namtha Province, Laos
Oudomsinh Elementary School, the largest in the region, provides education to 6 to 10 year olds. It has 687 students and 32 teachers. The director of the school Mr Kaek Chantachak has confirmed that there is no more funding for books in his school. Currently there are only enough text books for 1 out of every 3 students. This is nowhere near enough to educate all of the enrolled students. Each textbook costs $8, which is a 1/7th of the average family’s monthly income.