One Million Words Asia Literacy Organization

Muang Sing Elementary School

Muang Sing Elementary School, Luang Namtha, Laos

Muang Sing is located in northwestern Laos in the northern part of Luang Namtha Province. The town lies about 60 kilometres northwest of the town of Luang Namtha, 77 kilometres northeast by road from Xieng Kok on the Burmese border and about 360 kilometres northwest of Vientiane. The district, which has jurisdiction over about 95 villages, borders Muang Long to the west and Muang Namtha to the east and Yunnan, China to the north. The district covers an area of 1650 km², has a population of about 23,500 as of 2000 and a population density of 14.2 persons per km². The terrain ranges in altitude between 540 in the lowlands to 2,094 metres in the highlands. Muang Namtha forms a valley of the same name with dramatic mountain scenery. Roughly half of the district lies within the Namtha National Biodiversity Conservation Area, also known as Nam Ha National Protected Area, a heavily forested area under national protection which extends much further to the southwest and includes the Pha Yueng Waterfall, about 17 kilometres south of the town of Mueang Sing. The confluence of Nam Dai, Nam Sing and Nam Yuan is just to the northeast of the town of Mueang Sing.

Due to its mountainous location at around 700 metres on average, the weather can be quite cool, rarely exceeding 30 degrees in the hottest part of the year in March–April and dropping to as low as 0 degrees Celsius in the coldest months, December–January. The monsoon season falls between May and October.

There are over nine minority groups in Mueang Sing District. As of 2000 there were some 68 Akha villages, 26 Tai Lue villages, 5 Tai Neua villages, 5 Yao villages, 3 Hmong villages and 1 Tai Dam village in the district. These ethnic groups are classified in terms of altitude such as Lao lum (lowland Lao) and Lao sung (highland Lao). There are also many ethnic Yunnanese people in the area, mainly traders. The Akha which comprise about 45%, speak Tibeto-Burman languages and are mostly found in the rural parts of the district, especially the hills, and the Tai Lu, 30% of the people, form the largest ethnic group living in the main town.

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.

Remember, each textbook costs $8, which is a 1/7th of the average family’s monthly income.

Every little bit can help these kids read and learn.

Please help us support Muang Sing school!

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