Computer Laboratory Programme

By Meghan Jones

Child’s Dream has been supporting the construction of schools in Lao PDR since 2006, and in the province of Xaignabouli (located on the northwest border of Lao PDR) since 2008. While building schools has certainly been a rewarding project, it did not take long to realise that many schools needed support beyond the construction of a school building. We noticed quickly that our secondary schools were often lacking computers and computer laboratories, leaving students underprepared when progressing in further academic and/or professional pursuits.

Despite Lao PDR being one of the poorest countries in the world, the government consistently works towards improving their educational system, including the addition of computer classes as part of the national curriculum. Computer skills have become an increasingly essential part of higher education and a necessary skill set for many careers. Unfortunately, for many remote schools in Lao PDR, students do not have access to actual computers and therefore do not gain adequate computer skills by completion of their education.

Many remote schools in Lao PDR, students do not have access to actual computers and therefore do not gain adequate computer skills

As part of their curriculum, students learn about computers, but only in theoretical classes using traditional lecture-style lessons, and students often never even get the chance to practise what they learn on an actual computer. Many schools simply do not have the resources necessary to provide their students with computers on which to learn.

In order to address this problem, Child’s Dream started building computer laboratories in Lao PDR in 2014. We decided to focus on Xaignabouli Province, where we had already established strong relationships with many communities and supported the construction of many schools. Over the course of the next seven years, we helped to build twelve computer laboratories in Lao PDR with two more currently in construction, and supported the development of computer training curriculums. Each computer lab is equipped with approximately 30 desktop computers with internet access, a projector and AC units.

Through this initiative, students have had the opportunity to take courses at their schools in practical computing, and gain essential skills to enhance their employability. We have adapted the programme over the years to include systems to maintain the computer laboratories and ensure that schools are prepared to take on the maintenance of these important resources themselves. We plan to continue to build computer laboratories in Lao PDR, as the development of computer skills will remain an important asset for students far into the future.