The primary focus at Laos Educational Opportunities Trust (LEOT) is to supplement local efforts to ensure that young people with few resources can access the quality education and skills training they need to be successful in the future. In June of 2019, LEOT celebrated the end of their 7th year of educational and community development in Luang Prabang, Laos. Following below you will find exciting highlights from the 2018-2019 fiscal year, along with some more recent news.
Overall, classes at the LEOT school have been going very well; before the summer break they were at full capacity and consistently well-attended by students. Registration for the new term begins in early September and the following classes will be offered:
- English – 5 lessons per week
- English for Beginners – 1 lesson per week
- Informational Technologies – 2 lessons per week
- Hospitality English for Cafés/Restaurants – 2 lessons per week (This is a new pilot program, kindly supported by one of our GoPhil community members, intended to help students find jobs in Luang Prabang’s burgeoning hospitality industry.)
To supplement their regular curriculum, LEOT launched a “Dream Catchers” program – modeled after PEPY’s very successful program in Cambodia – during the last fiscal year, which works with local students in their final year of high school, as well as other unemployed young people, to help them achieve their dreams and goals for the future. Participants receive assistance writing their resumes and job application letters, practice and prepare for job interviews, and learn practical skills such as how to save money and budget for living expenses. As many participants do not have a specific career goal in mind, LEOT arranges for inspirational guest speakers from various professions to come and share their experiences and teach various job skills.
2018/2019 Dream Catcher Participants
Additionally, GoPhil community members continue to provide scholarships for various LEOT students to continue on to university, where they continue to thrive with the ongoing encouragement and support from LEOT.
During the last fiscal year, LEOT also arranged a creative storytelling workshop for their students, where a talented Laotian artist from a local theater came and shared his passion for traditional Lao folk stories. The students were inspired to form a storytelling group and rehearsed for weeks to create their own story and performance for their peers!
2018/2019 Scholarship Students
The LEOT Sewing Center, which houses a new vocational training program, opened its doors for the first time this summer. The new participants have been busy learning basic skills such as how to make sewing patterns, as well as more unique techniques such as to how to weave and dye fabrics. LEOT entered into a strategic partnership with the local Department of Education to finance and run this new program.
LEOT also recently rebuilt a school in an extremely difficult to reach rural mountain village of Luang Province in Laos, a project generously supported by members of the GoPhil community. This marked the fourth school building project completed by LEOT. Previously, this village had only a basic, wooden school with a dirt floor, too small to accommodate all the children in the village, which contributed to poor attendance.
When a truck carrying materials for the new school broke down on the nearby road, the villagers joined together to pull the truck all the way up the hill to the build site!
The build was planned and conducted in close partnership between LEOT, the Department of Education and the village itself to ensure that the school would not only be built, but stocked with materials and furniture, staffed with qualified teachers, and maintained for years to come. Responsibilities were coordinated and divided up: 1) the village provided the land, built an access road, and provided laborers to aid in the build and setup; 2) LEOT supplied the building materials and furniture and hired a builder to manage the project to completion; and 3) the Department of Education monitored the building of the school, and is now providing resources and teachers to run the school. Overall, this coordinated effort was a huge success and the new school will open its doors to students in mid-September. This is a wonderful example of LEOT’s collaborative and sustainable approach to educational development.