The Laotian university education system does not focus on active and reflective learning. Soft skills, including critical thinking, are not taught sufficiently so students have little chance to further improve these skills.
In May 2018 we met with Bey Kham, the former Head of the Huam Jai Assamak, a youth programme which provides opportunities for young minority students from rural areas to volunteer with local communities in Laos. Together we worked with her to create a small pilot programme called Education Zone for Youth (EzoneY).
EzoneY, started in August 2018, aims to empower youth through training in soft skills, combined with additional volunteer activities. We expect this pilot batch of youth to gain more leadership skills and practical experience so that they can transfer their knowledge and motivation to other youth, including those at the different universities in Laos. This first year pilot programme for EzoneY is training 12 youth to become trainers: eight EzoneY students are Child’s Dream University Scholarship Programme alumni, while an additional four are from Bey Kham’s network of similarly eager youth. We expect to incorporate six of these youth into EzoneY as salaried trainers, who will then train additional groups of youth annually, including our University Scholarship Programme students studying for Laos bachelor degrees.