-Aide et Action, Lao People’s Democratic Republic-
Lao’s national development plan on education focuses on women empowerment and girl education has made a significant progress. At present, the number of women representing in the parliament is increasing at a significant pace, as does as the number of female students in school, especially in the city and urban areas. This improvement is indeed a result of better access to economic opportunity.
However, the issue that Aide et Action (AEA), Laos would like to shine a spotlight on and know more in depth is low school enrollment rates among female children of ethnic group. Currently, there is no tool for AEA Laos to measure or validate whether a gender disparity in education among ethnic groups is associated with personal beliefs or on a hindrance to economic opportunity. This lack of data has an impact on our project implementation and can be a bottleneck in scale up, especially when expanding our project to a new location. If we had obtained in-depth data on specific barriers, we would have been able to deliver a better outcome and impact to a community that we are supporting.
In rural Laos, a number of ethnic families tend to keep their daughters at home to help with field work or household chores. Our approach on gender disparity in education among ethnic groups has been to provide incentives to parents to encourage them to send their daughter to school. A study tour with AEA Vietnam to Lai Chau province in October has validated that the incentive provision to family has remarkably increased the number of children enrolled in school, especially girls of ethnic families. Given our budgets constraints and other priorities, AEA Laos are not able to subsidize incentives to all families but only to the most needed ones.
AEA Laos is currently planning an action research study on gender disparity on education, especially among ethnic groups which comprising 60 percent of all population in the country. The outcome of the research will help us draw a clear understanding of the issue to a workable and a more effective solutions. The outcome will not only help us to design activities, but it will allow us to understand the root causes of the problem.