International Educators visit the Lotus Girls in Laos

The Changing Face Of International Education

International Educators Visit The Lotus Girls in Laos

On Friday May 24th 2013 a group of six International educators from the New International School of Bangkok (NIST) including Nora Hamzel, Helen Stead, Amelie Nadeau, David Garcia Fernandez, Luis Murillo Othon, Dianne Gamage and friend Ibi Szentirmay together a film-makers Nuttapong Tonhirunmas and Papawee Pongthanavaranon will travel to Savannakhet. The group will be carrying 80kgs of excess luggage; including 15kgs of teaching resources developed and donated by the Elementary teachers at NIST. As well as decorating the classrooms with colourful and engaging teaching aids, it is hoped that students from the University of Savannahket will use some of this resources to develop their pedagogical practices.

 Helen Keogh, a former NIST teacher now working at the International School of Vientiane in Laos will also join the group. Helen has organised a challenging 3000 km bike ride from Vientiane to Phuket in an effort to raise $5000 to support the first years of elementary schooling for a new registration of Lotus girls. You can donate to Helen’s challenge by clicking on the following link  Lotus is very grateful to the support that Helen is providing towards bridging the gender inequity in education in Champhone district.

The group are excited to support Dr Phoudalay Lathvilavong implement Phase two of the Lotus Educational project in Champhone district, Savannakhet and see of another 40 Lotus girls commence their schooling.

Last week in collaboration with the village chief from the area known as Kms 35 in Champhone district, 40 seven year old girls were selected from the poorest families to commence their elementary schooling. The second phase of our project has been made possible by the partnership that has been established and funding support provided by the mining company MMG Ltd located in neighbouring Sepon district.

The Lotus Educational Fund Ltd has been working successfully in Laos under the professional leadership of Dr Phoudalay since 2008. Our initial strategy for enhancing girl’s education in Champhone district has been to first focus on increasing girls’ enrolment in formal primary education and on ensuring the completion of the entire primary cycle of five years. The first Lotus graduates will commence their secondary schooling in September. Our goal is to increase the transition rate for girls from the primary level to the lower secondary level of education in isolated rural areas in Champhone district.   

The success of the Lotus project to date is twofold; firstly the strong community partnership and the continued fundraising efforts of communities in Laos, Thailand and Australia.

Furthermore the success rate has been achieved through a number of strategies including:

 1)    Strong “in country” partnerships.  Dr Phoudalay (a local agronomist who has a formal role in assisting farmers to develop improved farming techniques and a personal commitment to assisting girls in education) attends the school on a weekly basis to monitor the girl’s attendance.

2)    Partnerships with the local schools and parents of the girls attending.  Each year representatives of the Fund visit Laos and hold discussions regarding the welfare of the girls and the success or otherwise of their schooling.  Village Elders are asked for their input and ultimately their support.  In consultation with all parties agreements are achieved as to expectations of school attendance and financial support.

3)    Appropriate “marketing” of the education to all those involved in the community i.e.; not a gate way to riches or to “get away from the hard agricultural life”, to gain access to status.  Education is an avenue to access better choices.

4)    Promotion of community engagement with the Lotus Educational Fund through involvement of community leaders, local teachers and education staff and the girl’s parents.

 We welcome the opportunity to meet with Dr Phoudalay, the girls, their parents and teachers and representatives of MMG Ltd this week so that we can celebrate Phase Two of this successful project. We have taken slow steps and involved people from all communities so that we never lose sight of our vision ensuring that the girls and their parents always have ownership of this project. Our guiding philosophy is simple; “When you educate a girl, you educate a village.”

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Last week in collaboration with the village chief from the area known as Kms 35 in Champhone district, 40 seven year old girls were selected from the poorest families to commence their elementary schooling as phase two of the program begins in September 2013.

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