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  HOME | Arts & Entertainment

Mobile Library Still a Draw for Children in Poverty-Stricken Laos

LUANG PRABANG, Laos - In poverty-stricken Laos mobile libraries still hold a special allure for children, who do not have regular access to books.

A local foundation "Big Brother Mouse" regularly sends out its staff and volunteers throughout the country in a bus full of books, bringing joy to many children.

"Teachers and students do not have textbooks in schools, especially in remote areas. They use blackboard and notebooks to study," Siphone, a worker of the foundation told EFE.

In a two-story building in Luang Prabang, the foundation's headquarter, eager children are pouring happily over old computers, browsing through new books donated by travelers, and chattering happily with foreign volunteers to practice their spoken english.

The organization got a publishing license in 2006 to publish their first books in Laotian language, an adaptation of Western tales to encourage children to read.

While they were expanding their catalog and topics - ranging from books on cooking to the translation of Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl - they organized visits to nearby villages and provinces to reach readers in the rural areas.

Many a time, owing to poor infrastructure, the foundation's staff themselves would carry the books in baskets traveling through jungles or crossing rivers in boats.

According to Lao government data, one out of every six children below the age of 15 does not know how to read or write.

Poorly trained teachers, along with accessibility issues and scarcity of educational material has hampered the educational prospects of thousands of children, according to the foundation.

UNICEF representatives in Laos have made a series of recommendations to improve the quality of education in the country such as promoting pre-school education to prepare children for primary school, and improve training programs for teachers.

"Lack of Early Childhood Education (ECE) leads to poor foundation of children's learning experience and development. Despite the fact that the country has achieved a high primary enrolment rate and many more children are attending school, they are not learning," Takaho Fukami, the chief of UNICEF's Educations Program in Laos told EFE.
 

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