On Friday 24 May 2013, a group of international teachers from NIST International School travelled to Laos, to register and oversee the orientation and enrolment of 40 young girls from economically disadvantaged backgrounds into Grade One. Additionally they delivered a variety of English teaching resources developed by teachers at NIST. The trip also allowed the international teachers to reconnect with the original 44 girls who will enter their secondary schooling in September this year. These girls have been supported by the Lotus Education Fund, founded by small group of Australian teachers in 2008.
“It is a known fact that in many countries girls face many barriers in attending school. The major barriers include: male preference, attitudes towards girls’ early marriage, school distances that exceed the local security code, teacher absenteeism, and financial and domestic pressures and expectations.
Since 2008, the Lotus Education Fund has successfully facilitated 44 girls’ access to elementary education in six schools within the Champhone district in the province of Savannakhet. The girls were carefully identified by local community leaders as being capable of attending school and as members of families who were experiencing significant poverty”, said Dianne Gamage, one of the founders of the Lotus group and a teacher at NIST.
“A memorable part of our visit to the school was meeting the new enrolment of Lotus girls and distributing their schooling packs. The forty girls were recently chosen by the local village chief as being economically disadvantaged and consequently unable to attend school. The teachers were able to connect with the girls in the classroom through musical activities. It was an unusual sight for the local villagers to see the school bursting with children hanging from the outside windows and cramped into classrooms on a Saturday”, said David Garcia Fernandez, a Spanish teacher at NIST.
“Time passed very quickly as we moved between classrooms, sharing English lessons, singing songs and incorporating the simple yet greatly appreciated resources we had delivered to the school. In addition we distributed sixty kilos of much needed clothing supplies, co-ordinated by the teachers at NIST, to the girls and their families.
The fact that 80 girls travelled six kilometres on foot and by hand tractor in dry conditions on a holiday is testament to the fact that education is highly valued by their families. To watch their smiles as they sang, danced, wrote their names and engaged with this energetic group of teachers within the walls of their neglected classrooms was wonderful. The teachers are keen to continue their involvement and are now evaluating ways to continue their connection with the girls”, concluded Amelie Nadeau, NIST World Language Coordinator and French Teacher.
If you would like to know more about the Lotus project please contact Dianne Gamage at NIST, Bangkok. firstname.lastname@example.org