Who we are
School Support Laos is a small NGO based in Savannakhet, Laos. The founder is Marit Ngamchalad from Norway. She lives in Mukdahan, Thailand, a border town across the river from Savannakhet. In Savannakhet, School Support Laos has an office and three permanent employees.
Our aims is to reduce poverty through supporting education of children. We give aid to children from poor families, so that they are able to attend school. We also give scholarship for higher education. We are funded 100% by private donors as we do not receive any governmental support.
School Support Laos was founded in 2001 when we gave out school supplies to 50 students at Phonsavang Tai Primary School in Savannakhet. Since then, we have supported education of more than 1000 children. We will continue our work as long as we have donors and as long as there are poverty in Laos.
What we do
School Support Laos is running four different programs:
- Primary and Secondary School Support in Savannakhet: In close cooperation with the local primary schools, we select students from the poorest families into this program. The parents of these kids often have many children and sometimes one or both of the parents are dead. In many cases, none of the parents have any education themselves. Kids from such families are in great danger of dropping out of school after only one or two years. To prevent that, we buy a package with school supplies that we give to the children. The package contain a school uniform, shoes, a school bag, notebooks, pencil, pens, rubber, ruler and some sanitary objects such as soap and tooth brush. This is all they need to attend school for one full year. We pay all new children a visit at home before they are included in the program to make sure that we select the ones with the greatest need. We also write a contract with the parents where they promise to send their kid to school for as long as they receive support from us. Once the child is included in our program, we give support until the end of secondary school (high school), 12 years in total. During this period, we visit the families several times.
- Higher education in Savannakhet: When the children we are helping have graduated from high school, they can apply to us for further scholarship. Every year, we select a few students that are highly motivated, have above average grades and live in families that are unable to support the students themselves. For these students, we pay the tuition fee, school materials and student uniform. A higher education ensure a good income not only for the student herself, but also for the extended family.
- Teacher education for ethnic minorities: In Laos there are many ethnic minorities. Several of them live in Savannakhet province in the areas close to the Vietnamese border, where the forest is dense and there are many hills. They have long been neglected by the rest of the world and most of the people in these areas are illiterate. Until recently, they have not had access to education at all. During the last decade, the government has build many new schools, but there is now a great lack of teachers. Since 2009, School Support Laos has been handing out scholarships to teacher students from these districts. This makes it possible to open new schools or to expand existing primary schools from 3 to 5 classes. We pay the tuition fee, dorm fee, school uniform and school materials in addition to a monthly food allowance. The Teacher Training College is in Savannakhet city, far away from the villages of the students. Because of this, we follow the students up closely with consultations and after-school activities.
- Primary School Support in Sepon: Sepon is one of the districts with a large population of ethnic minorities. In addition to give out scholarship to teacher students from this district, we also support children in primary school. We believe that supporting basic education will contribute to reduction of the high infant mortality rate and give the children a better chance to get a paid job in the future. School Support Laos is increasingly focusing on this area.
We rely purely on private donors. The level of donations largely determines how many children and youth we can support in Laos. We have no intentions of growing too fast or too much as we believe it is a strength to be small, flexible and transparent. All our employees are working in the field, we have no marketing expenses at all, and enjoy very low administration costs.
For donations, please contact us at schoolsupportlaos[at]gmail[dot]com for instructions on international bank transfer.
If you have questions to our projects, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We also welcome donors to visit us in Savannakhet to better understand what we are doing.
Some of the blog posts on this blog is written in English. Click here to read them.