In rural regions of Lao PDR like Vang Vieng province, children don’t often have access to preschools and parents have limited knowledge on the importance of these early years of development.
The early years of a child’s life have a profound impact on a child’s future. Being in a caring and stimulating environment early on – such as a preschool that supports children’s development – sets a child up for success in the first grade and beyond. For this reason, Aide et Action is establishing preschool classes across Vang Vieng province so that more children will have access to early childhood care and education.
School Meals and Community Campaigns
In a local primary school, in a small village called Somsavath Tai, we are supporting a preschool teacher to provide early childhood education for close to 40 children aged 3-5-years-old. Essential to a child’s development is adequate nutrition. In Lao PDR, 44% of children under five are classified as stunted . To help ensure that the children we work with receive adequate nutrition to support their development, we provide balanced school lunches twice a week for all students.
In collaboration with the primary schools we work with, we have also ran education campaigns to increase awareness in the community of the importance for children to attend preschool. Over 200 students and parents joined our education campaign in Somsavath Tai in October 2019. The children joined in fun and educational activities, such as drawing and a clean-up competition to encourage them to take care of the school and environment. Parents received information on the importance of early childhood education and how to support their children’s development outside of the classroom.
Bounmey finds her voice
One of the beneficiaries of our project is five-year-old preschooler, Boumy* and her parents Lien and Xeng. “Bounmy is the eldest of our two daughters and this is her first year attending school. Because we live close to the school, she goes every day” says Lien.
“Bounmy has always been quite shy. Before she started school, she didn’t talk much and didn’t like to meet strangers. But ever since she started preschool, she speaks much more, expresses herself, and has more friends. After school, she tells us what she did in school, what songs and dances she sung, what food she ate, and the lessons she learned,” adds Xeng.
Best of all, Bounmy is teaching everything she learns to her younger sister. Her parents tell us that every day, she sings her favourite Lao song and dances her favorite traditional dance with her sister. Some days, when her friends come over, they dance the traditional dances together and draw pictures.
“To us, the importance of preschool is clear. It can help children develop and prepare them for grade one. We are so proud of how brave she is becoming,” says Lien.
*Child’s name changed in accordance with AEA’s child protection policy