Improving education in Laos

Uploaded by AusAIDvideo on 04.01.2010

NARRATOR: This is one of the poorest countries in the Mekong region.
74% of the people here
live on less than $2 a day.
Those same people have limited opportunities to access education.
It's no coincidence poverty levels and education
are inextricably linked.
NARRATOR: Education of children to completion of primary school
is just one of the United Nations Millennium Goals,
seen in Laos as a key plank towards reduction of extreme poverty.
This is a country with 49 different ethnic groups
making up 45% of the population.
They live in the poorest, most remote areas of the country,
concentrated in the mountainous north
and here in the south-east, bordering Vietnam,
where people live almost entirely off the land,
just like generations before them,
caught in a poverty cycle now being addressed through education,
with assistance from the Australian Government.
500 schools are being constructed,
with an average of three classrooms per school.
In this village, a very welcome addition.
TRANSLATION: The old school is... has the straw roof,
and it was very difficult in rainy season
for the kids to come to school,
and it kind of discouraged kids to come to school.
But the new building is a nice and beautiful building,
which has been supported by the project.
NARRATOR: Building materials and labourers sourced from the region -
a further contribution to local economies.
More than 600,000 textbooks have been printed and distributed,
with 4,000 teachers receiving in-service training
on the use of materials
supplied by the Lao-Australian Basic Education Project.
We can help them from the early age, you know,
to develop their skills and knowledge,
that they can cope and they can find good jobs when they grow up.
If they have good education,
then they can manage to have a good career,
and, you know, poverty can be reduced.
NARRATOR: AusAID is working closely with the Ministry of Education
to target the poorest areas of the country.
375 teachers from different language backgrounds have been trained,
with an emphasis on employing females.
One of the real difficulties in teaching so many ethnic groups
is the number of different languages spoken.
TRANSLATION: When I started teaching,
they couldn't read and write and speak Lao.
But since their reading and writing has improved,
they feel more motivated to come to school.
NARRATOR: Lao is being taught to improve education opportunities
beyond primary level,
where the national language is more likely to be spoken.
Girls have traditionally been withdrawn from school early
to help with family chores,
but old ways are changing.
We can see that now there are more and more girls in school,
and that is very impressive -
that the parents can realise
that education is so important for their children.
NARRATOR: Only 2% of these children will receive a secondary education.
Even that is a very positive result
when compared to previous generations.
But a reduction in poverty levels
through increased employment opportunities
will provide the best of all outcomes.