In Lao PDR’s northern countryside – characterized by rugged mountains and lush, green rice paddies – primary schools are few and far between, and there is a serious shortage of school books and other teaching and learning materials. Aide et Action is working in the region to increase access to quality education and learning materials.
While the landscape may be picturesque, the terrain of northern Lao PDR is difficult to traverse, especially by vehicle. The remoteness of rural communities poses a serious challenge for the delivery of public services, especially education for young children.
Teachers are also stretched thin in remote areas, as they are often required to accommodate numerous grade-levels simultaneously. Yet, ensuring adequate stimulation for these young students in their early years is essential to their development. For this reason, Aide et Action is introducing innovative teaching and learning approaches through information and communication technologies (ICT).
Our digital innovations are not bound by spatial limitations and have the potential to reach even the most remote areas to improve literacy and numeracy. Through the provision of ICT equipment such as projectors, tablets and a digital learning app we are creating opportunities for more accessible learning tools to be enjoyed by teachers and students alike. However, in order for children to benefit from innovative approaches, classrooms must be adequately secure and able to support ICT equipment.
In 2019, our team travelled to 25 villages across remote areas of the country to assess the conditions of primary schools. The schools were assessed based on their infrastructure, their security, and their ability to support digital equipment. Much to our delight, the majority of schools were ready to support E-classrooms. This meant that the infrastructure of the school was strong and safe, and the school was able to provide electricity for the ICT equipment. These schools would make minor upgrades, such as a safety box to protect the ICT equipment against theft.
There were, however, a number of schools not yet ready to receive equipment. They lacked the adequate infrastructure to ensure the safe use and maintenance of ICT equipment. For these schools, we provided guidelines and support to renovate the classrooms. Ceilings were renovated to ensure they were safe and provided the appropriate air circulation necessary to maintain electrical equipment. Windows and doors were renovated and fitted with bars and locks to enhance security for the equipment. Electrical boxes were installed in classrooms to provide power.
Over the course of three months, the schools’ administrations worked quickly to make the required improvements to their classrooms. These minor renovations and additional safety measures will ensure the long-term maintenance and security of the ICT equipment. With the schools’ proactive preparation, they are now ready to receive the ICT equipment to help their students access innovative new ways to learn.