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Digital library helps children in a remote village learn the Lao language

A digital library with hundreds of storybooks is helping children from an ethnic minority group in Laos stay engaged in school and learn to read and write in their national language.

Young primary school students like eight-year-old Ari (pictured above) in a remote village in Huaphanh Province, in northeast Laos, have long faced challenges reading and writing Lao, a second language for many of them, because of the lack of teaching and learning resources at their school.

Long-time primary school teacher Toui says the majority of students at his school communicate with one another in their ethnic language rather than Lao. Over the past 32 years as a teacher, he has seen children of this ethnic minority group progress “very slowly” when it comes to reading, writing and speaking Laos’ national language.

Children who are literate in Lao transition easier to mainstream education and have greater job opportunities in the future. It is also easier for them to access government services and ensure their rights are not violated.

Toui says the introduction of the digital library, introduced by ChildFund in Laos and Library For All, has inspired students to learn Lao, and increased their confidence.

“Since the digital library was implemented two years in our school, students have been more motivated to come to school, are interested in reading, and have developed their Lao reading and speaking skills,” Toui says.

“Many children in this area are shy. They don’t often share their opinions and ideas. Since the digital library was introduce, the children have improved their communication skills, and they question more.”

The digital library, which has more than 200 books written in Lao, has helped to build the confidence of children like eight-year-old Lati (pictured above).

Each student in Toui’s class has their own electronic tablet to access the library, which has more than 200 age- and culturally-appropriate books written in Lao.

Toui says students are “always excited” to use the digital library because they can read a new story each day.

“It’s brilliant that the digital library has inspired and increased the amount of students learning the Lao language,” he says.

Long-time primary school teacher Toui says his students are now more motivated to go to school and learn Lao because of the digital library.

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