Education for all!
As for any other Mekong Plus project, the scholarship program is largely supported by the local people. Every thousands of people (106.000 in 2015!!!) walk or run a few kilometers as a sign of support. They also contribute with a small donation (22.000 € in 2015). Mekong Plus then adds to this amount so that we can reach 3700 children every year. 22 € for primary school and college, 44 € for high school. The pupils are thus very encouraged to study and to continue their education as far as possible.
Each child who receives a scholarship will pursue her/his education but also motivates other children to do the same, thanks to the massive community mobilisation, and the follow-up done byMekong Plus. The schools are keen to identify the children who could drop out because of economic hardship.
This fantastic program is now replicated in Cambodia where not less than 80% pupils abandon before highschool. They will stay poor for another generation.
In every society a number of people suffer from various disabilities. Where we work hundreds of children were hiddent and refused access to school. Their parents themselves would sometimes condemn them: "She cannot remember anything"; "He cannot follow"; "He cannot even walk to school, we have to carry him"...
Even then, some teachers, with much courage, were trying their best to adapt to these children with special needs. With no training nor budget.
We have offered training and little material support to those schools who volunteerd to join the program. They now make their own teaching aids, at very low cost. In each such school, a "happy room" has been dedicated for an adapted pedagogy, after the ordinary classes. They are also used for recreation and all children are admitted: the best abled assist the children with difficulties. Every child is followed individually, a record is kept for difficulties and progress. Many make fantastic progress, their parents watch from outside and are amazed. Watch the video "Hằng superstar"! Afetr a few months we observe very significant progress in most cases.
Computer learning is part of the curriculum in Vietnam but most rural school have no computers. The children thus learn from the blackboard, take notes... Mekong Plus thu provides second hand computers.
67 schools have been equipped with over 700 second hand reconditioned computers (120 euros each). In each school 2 technicians have been trained.
The children pay 9 euros for each cycle, except the very poor for whom it is free. These contributions pay for the electricity and the maintenance. Every year 15 500 are included in the program.
Health at school
Before building more facilities it is important to change attitudes. So many schools have latrines which are absolutely unapproachable! Mekong Plus thus assists the schools which have shown good progress, by co-funding to improve the sanitary facilities.
It once happened that a funder insisted on building the latrines first. We refused, it is important the people feel the latrines are theirs; they have contributed to build them, after following active pedagogy on hygiene, on the importace of latrines...
Twice a year an evaluation committee visits all schools, unannounced, to monitor progress. The evaluation committee is composed of teachers from other schools, by officials and by one representative from Mekong Plus.
Competition is stiff, and one must take merit into account as some schools have no access to water for example. The best 3 schools in each district (out of about 30) receive an award of 100 to 200 euros, as cofunding to build latrines, a water tank, make part of the playground in concrete...