Dear supporters, friends and colleagues!
The year 2015 marked a significant change in the history of the Angels for Children foundation, through the new cooperation with the University of Education Karlsruhe. The pilot project “Teaching English in Laos” devised by Prof. Dr. Isabel Martin and carried out by her team, five graduates of English (primary and secondary education), started in October and ends in January. It now provides the basis for a long-term English education program in the Sikeud area – and possibly in Laos.
The test phase spanning 12 weeks began with a long list of open questions, some educated guesses, some whistling in the dark, and a comprehensive albeit tentative work plan. Within a matter of days, observations and discoveries were made, with more complex revelations and some obstacles to follow. Every day was packed with new exciting or revealing experiences, which were shared and discussed among the team so as to continually reassess and readjust the original plans.
The didactic, linguistic, structural, and organizational weak spots in the school routine were identified as well as cultural idiosyncracies and assets. Modern teaching materials and communicative methods were successfully introduced and demonstrated to the Lao English teachers, who soon started trying them out themselves. At the same time, Christian Engel and Prof. Dr. Isabel Martin introduced themselves and their project to the relevant representatives of Lao Education Institutions.
The initial goal of professionalizing the three governmental schools supported by AfC by combining the modern infrastructure and organization with professional teacher support in pedagogics, didactics, linguistics, and methodology suddenly seemed desirable on a larger scale. Why would we limit ourselves to improving education in a few schools? Could the project not be used as a role model for new developments elsewhere? The responsible Lao Education Institutions seemed to welcome the project for their own reasons and were quick to supply suggestions and comments. First visits were soon returned, small conferences arranged and workshops held. The outstanding possibilities of growth generated in the AfC schools might serve as an example and thus help to improve the Lao education system for the subject of English by improving the methodology, teacher training, and curriculum. English is the language for international communication and needed to help Laos connect with the ASEAN community and the rest of the world, but unfortunately hardly anyone can speak the language – and this sorry fact includes English teachers.
Lao state institutions are not known to be reliable partners. But it seems as if the significant change brought about in a few schools by a new successful framework encouraged new partnerships and opened up new perspectives, which are now being developed through continuous communication and cooperation. Potential new partnerships are forming with the English Department of the National University of Laos, the Teacher Training College Dongkhamxan in Vientiane, the Foreign Language Resource Center of the Research Institute for Educational Sciences, and the Ministry of Education and Sports. During the last two months very promising steps were taken for a future long-term engagement in Laos, signed and sealed by a “Memorandum of Understanding” between Angels for Children and the University of Education Karlsruhe on 15 December.
Follow our blog for information about the project, our team, as well as quotidian and extraordinary events.
At the end of the year and at the beginning of a long-term commitment, our thoughts go back to all our supporters in the hope that we will continue along this road together for some time.
On behalf of Angels for Children and the University of Education Karlsruhe we cordially thank you all for the help you gave us in the form of expertise, time, work, material, and other donations. Without you, this success would not have been possible. We are looking forward to working even harder in 2016 to ensure lasting results.
We wish you and your family and friends all the best for the New Year 2016: “Happy New Year” in English, “Frohes Neues Jahr” in German and “Sok dii Pi mai” in Lao!
Text by J.Zeck & I. Martin