Border Schools Project Student Activities in Champasak Province 09-18 October 2019

BSP champasackGroup Photo between the students at national university of Laos, the Students at Nonsamphan high school and
SEAMEO CED Staffs at Hieng Village, Sukuma District, Champasak Province

After the preliminary result and accomplishment of SEAMEO Border Schools Project Inception Workshop that SEAMEO CED convened during 2nd-4th April 2019 in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR. The workshop was attended by the representatives of border schools and district education staff members both from Laos and Thailand, eight SEAMEO Regional Centres (SEAMEO BIOTROP, SEAMEO INNOTECH, SEAMEO QIM, SEAMEO QIS SEAMEO SEAMOLEC, SEAMEO SEN and SEAMEO TROPMED Network, representatives from the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR, international donors and partner organizations.

The workshop highlighted a variety of issues common to border schools that are located at the intersection point of national and social boundaries.
Regarding to the project aims in developing an understanding of the challenges faced by border schools and addressing the problems of inequity and access to quality education for marginalized communities of SEAMEO Member Countries. The need assessment was carried out with school teachers, village authorities and parents in the schools located in the case study areas. Interviews focused on school infrastructure and resources which may potentially compete with or compliment education priorities, and existing support and motivational structures for students- which determine not only education quality but also student engagement and motivation to remain in school. It is clear from the interviews that most students faced economic pressure and often traded off education in order to support their parents and families.
In order to address some of these issues, a trial of student activities was carried out in Champasak Province during 09-18 October 2019 at three of border schools area namely Kaengkarng Primary School and Vangtao Lower Secondary School (Phonthong District) and Nonsamphanh High School (Sukhuma District) in order to connect agricultural students from the Faculty of Agriculture, the National University of Laos (NUOL) with some of the current livelihood concerns and their basic needs identified in those two districts. A series of activities were carried out in conjunction with school students to demonstrate practical agricultural science-based activities that had practical value for the community.
Activities such as developing local produce and organic compost were designed to promote learning and awareness as well as introduce students to clean agriculture. In subsequent interviews, many students from those schools reported value of these practical activities that did not occur often in the community according to the remoteness and other facilities- enabling them to not only build their knowledge and skills in nutrition, environment and clean agriculture but also enjoy with the activities and create friendship among each other.