Joining hands achieves universal primary education

Preschool children in Vangpanh and Donenguen village, Phonethong district, Luangprabang Province, will not have to wait until the age of six to enjoy learning in the classroom.

Through the cooperation with global consumer-products manufacturer Procter & Gamble (P&G), local authorities and parents, World Vision International in Lao PDR was able to complete the construction of two school buildings and hand them over to Phonethong District Education Office and community parents last month.

Mrs. Vanhpheng Phahongchanh, the Vice District Governor of Phonethong, gave sincere thanks for World Vision International in Lao PDR for its help in seeking the funds to support the Social Economic Development implementation plan in the district.

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“The school building is very necessary for children to start learning at an early age,” Phahongchanh said at the handover ceremony.

There are only 16 of Phonethong district’s 40 villages that have an operating pre-primary school. Many children have to wait at home or follow their parents to work on the farm until they are able to start their early primary school in Grade 1 at the age of six. 

“It was difficult for the young children to learn how to read and write. It will take a lot of time for them to get used to a school environment if we don’t have a pre-school,” said Soy, a primary school teacher at Vangpanh.

“I believe the pre-school can help prepare children to learn in the classroom and become familiar with the teacher. They will be able to perform well when they go to Grade 1 of primary school,” Soy added.

Reducing the number of students who did not perform well at the primary school level was a challenge for teachers and parents.

In 2016, World Vision International in Lao PDR provided technical and financial support to build the pre-school buildings in Vangpanh and Donenguen. The school buildings contained one big classroom and three toilets each.

“We were waiting to see the completion of the new building,” said Mr. Chansamone, a farmer with three grandchildren who will attend the new school on 1 September. “Now we don’t have to worry where to keep our young children while we are working on the farm. They will enjoy their class.”

Mr. Bounsoung, the Village Chief of Donenguen village, is grateful to have a pre-school for his community.

“I am very glad to have a pre-school in the village,” he said. “On behalf of all villagers, I would like to thank all the donors and partners who contributed to this school. We will encourage parents to send their children of the age to the pre-school. On behalf of community parents, we are committed to take ownership to maintain this school as one of our village’s property.” 

Chris Herink, National Director of World Vision International in Lao PDR, gave sincere thanks to the local authorities, community parents and the P&G donors who have provided labour, technical and financial support for the completion of the school building.

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“We hope the new school building can help increase the enrolment of children who are ethnically marginalized in the community and also help to build skills in the early life of children to be ready for primary school. This project will contribute towards the Lao government’s Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education,” he said.

Pre-primary school is the first priority for the community because more than 90 children from age three to five years old would benefit from the school building. The whole community can use it for events and meeting as well, which was part of the village’s plan.