Since early 2018, we have been working on a specific programme in Laos that has been integrating the use of new technologies in five partner schools in three districts of Vientiane province. 619 students at nursery and primary levels are benefiting, almost 50% of whom are female.
In each school, we provided five tablets, a projector, a screen, a laptop and an internet connection. We supported the training of 25 teachers to use these materials effectively with their students. Thanks to this new technology, students are learning how to use tablets and educational software to expand their general knowledge. Younger children are engaging in interactive learning through pictures, songs and educational videos.
Increasing access to technology for girls is of great value when trying to level the playing for girls’ inclusion in education and society at large. Girls and women often have less access to the internet and to technology in general compared to boys and men. Particularly in developing countries, girls and women often cannot afford internet access or technology. This, coupled with gender stereotypes around technology as being more for boys than for girls prohibits equal access to using digital tools.
For Lasee, one of girls involved in the course, her newfound access to digital tools has helped her strengthen her knowledge and her academic achievements. »I like learning with these digital tools because I can read and listen to stories. In addition, I can learn a lot of new things through educational videos available in software, » explains Lasee. In a world where over 90% of jobs globally have a digital component, digital literacy is becoming more and more important.
According to Simmaline Thilavong, Principal of Samsavath Tai Primary School, the New Technologies course allows students to learn different things from the national curriculum. It strengthens teamwork and reduces absenteeism among students. « Since the launch of the initiative, there has been a clear improvement in learning. Children understand the lesson better and can do their homework properly, « says Simmaline.
In spite of these benefits, the program faces some difficulties: because the number of devices is limited, some students can not participate actively in the class and group work. Additionally, the content is not very varied yet and the pupils often repeat the same things. « It’s a big challenge for our team to develop new digital content because it takes time and is expensive. We will make every effort to meet the needs of our students, « says Sadsada Phongnahak, our Project Manager in Laos.