Plan Funded Dormitories in Laos Improve Student Attendance
Like many children in Laos, 14-year-old Buasao lives far from school. For years she walked for two hours just to attend class in Pha Oudom district, Bokeo province. Her parents, a farming couple of the Lamed ethnic group couldn’t afford to buy her a bicycle, so she had no other choice but to walk to and from school each day.
Because of Pha Oudom’s remote location, there are only 4 secondary schools which serve the district’s 89 villages. The distance between student homes and schools often result in long commutes.
“Many of these children attend class sporadically or dropout completely,” said Mona Girgis, Director of Plan Laos.
A Convenient Solution
Recognizing the dilemma, Plan International funded the construction of student dormitories. These dormitories are conveniently located near the school and can house up to 240 students. Simple in construction, each dormitory is equipped with basic needs such as a kitchen, bedding, and bathroom facilities.
“Access to quality education is essential for a child’s future and for the future of Laos as a rapidly developing economy,” adds Girgis.
Thanks to Plan, Buasao and her friends now have the benefit of staying in the dormitories and avoiding the daily commutes to and from school.
“It is a great opportunity for us. We are no longer walking great distances, through the mud in the rainy season and through the dust in the dry season,” said Buasao. “We have more time to study and in better conditions. This makes us fresh and ready for lessons.”
Let There Be Light
Because of its remote location, Pha Oudom doesn’t have regular electricity. At night, its residents rely on gasoline lanterns and torches which can be both expensive and dangerous to operate.
“As a pilot project, we have provided solar lanterns for dormitories in 1 school and 2 communities in Bokeo Province,” said Plan Laos Child-Centered Climate Change Adaption Coordinator Saphet Sivilay.
Having rechargeable solar lanterns in dormitories enables students to cook meals and complete their homework. Most importantly, it also reduces the number of gasoline fires that are attributed to the use of gasoline lanterns.
“We can safely use rechargeable lanterns in the dormitories at night,” said Buasao.
Plan Laos plans to continue its pilot program by providing four more communities with solar lantern systems in June.