Three years ago, preschools did not exist in Laos. Many children - particularly girls from ethnic minority backgrounds - continue to be extremely disadvantaged when it comes to education, especially education conducted in their own dialect.
Project SAMA is committed to supporting Plan’s Early Education project in Laos’ Bokeo province. Plan is establishing parenting and community learning groups in up to 45 villages, developing locally-made play and learning materials and training preschool teachers. Plan places a great importance on promoting a more positive attitude towards girls, demonstrating to parents and the community that girls can succeed at school and have a role beyond traditional gender roles.
Since Plan began working in the region, the enrolment rates for early education classes have risen steadily in all three districts of Bokeo. Children attending the classes have enjoyed a range of learning outcomes, including a greater understanding of the Lao language (for ethnic children), the development of early literacy skills and socialisation/readiness for the routines of primary school.
Early education projects also have a positive ripple effect on the entire community by:
- Creating vocational opportunities for women, as many women become the facilitators of the early education programs
- Giving women who have children attending the programs the time to pursue income-generating activities or to improve their own education
- Keeping older siblings in school rather than being left responsible for caring for their younger siblings – as is usually the case due to many mothers working outside the home to support the family.
How is gender equality being addressed?
When it comes to education in Laos, girls in rural areas have lower rates of primary and secondary school completion than boys. In addition, girls from ethnic minority groups are often married off at a young age which derails their chance of getting an education. The responsibility of looking after younger siblings is also largely the domain of young girls, limiting their opportunities for school and play. Child development programs that ensure parental attitudes and practices are supportive of children of both sexes are one of the best ways to ensure that girls, as well as boys, have the chance to develop to their full potential. Plan’s child development projects benefit girls because they promote the right of girls to play and to get an education.
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