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For children in rural Nonghet district in northern Laos, lack of access to quality education often means low learning outcomes for students and high class repetition rates. With only basic educational training, most teachers lecture to students rather than engaging them in the learning process, which gives children very little opportunity to voice their own ideas.

ChildFund Laos, with the support of the Australian Government, is helping to improve education quality and school leadership by training teachers, school principals and education officials from 22 schools in Nonghet. This Grade Five class would like to tell you about their teacher, Mr Youachung, who received teacher training through ChildFund.

How one good teacher can have a big impact

“We are a group of Grade Five students. Our school, which is located in Nonghet district in northern Laos, is one of ChildFund Laos’ supported schools.

Our school has always been taught by teachers from other villages. Those teachers normally live in their own home village and they travel daily to teach at our school. We would like to share with you about Mr Youachung who moved to teach at our school in September 2009. Since September 2014, he is also our school principal.

Mr Youachung is the second male teacher we have ever had, and he is also the first teacher whose classroom control methods inspired us more than just a little. We find that our classmates like to hear his soft voice, which inspires us to stay longer in our learning session.

Motivating students to embrace learning

Truth be told, in Grade Five, we needed someone to teach us who is continuously motivated and Mr Youachung is always there on time for our classroom studying sessions. And the most important fact about him is: he is one of the best teachers we have ever had!

Education is an essential part of every childhood. Meet Yufen from East Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia. Children who live in developing communities often don’t have access to a quality education.

The teachers may not be equipped with the skills or materials to engage students in their studies, but ChildFund is working to change that. Below Yufen explains how our projects have brought positive and measurable change to his school and the effect that has had on his studies.


A child who loves school


Yufen lives with his grandma while his younger sisters live with his parents in another village. He loves to play soccer and he also likes school.

“On weekends, Grandma takes me to visit my parents. I love my grandma. When she takes me to the farm, she likes telling me lots of different kinds of stories,” says Yufen. “At home, I help her by collecting water for cooking from our neighbour`s well. I have lived with my grandma since I was little because my parents said the school here is better.”


How ChildFund is working to improve the school experience and quality of education


Yufen is currently studying in the fifth grade. His primary school is supported by ChildFund Indonesia and its local partner, LPAA Belu through its Child-Friendly School program. ChildFund has completed classroom renovations and provided schools with school books, teaching aids, tables, chairs, bookcases and guitars. The program, which benefits 338 children and 17 teachers, helps schools become safe, healthy and protected environments for children, encouraging child participation in all aspects of school life.

“I like to go to school because I have many friends there,” Yufen says. “What I like most is science, learning about nature and living creatures. The teachers really care about us. If we are too noisy, they will remind us to be quiet and get back to studying.”


How training teachers to be engaging educators is improving the student experience


Yufen`s school principal, Maria Tai, agrees that the changes have been beneficial for everyone. Teachers have learnt better ways to convey information to their students by preparing lesson plans, managing their classrooms and disciplining children in more effective manners. In turn, students are more comfortable asking questions and giving their opinions in class.

“Before the training on child-friendly schools, we easily became angry with children when they made mistakes. Slowly, we have changed our interactions with the children. Now, we listen to children’s needs,” says Tai. “For example, on the second break between classes, children were usually asked to just stay in the class. Some children mentioned that it was really boring and asked if they could take a break in the library. I thought it was a good idea, so I let them. Now, students are reading more than just their textbooks and are discussing what they have learnt back in class.”