What should be done to ensure worldwide access to education?

Reporters interview the Chief of Thasengchan village, which was badly flooded, at a camp set up to house displaced people in Bok village.

Education is essential because it is the foundation of progress, civilisation and development. Recognising this, organisations worldwide are working to ensure literacy for both adults and young people, especially among populations in remote areas. These disadvantaged groups seldom have the opportunity to study. Large numbers of people want an education but poverty prevents them from attending school. On International Literacy Day, Vientiane Times asked people for their thoughts on how literacy rates could be improved. 

Ms Kingsouda Eintheppanya, a volunteer at the National Library: Of course, illiteracy is the main reason for poverty, particularly in remote areas. In my opinion, it’s essential to instil in children at a young age the importance of learning. But city dwellers also lack education. Fifty years ago, some people never had any access to reading material as their lives revolved around the natural world without the use of technology, and many people felt no need to get an education. Today we can use modern technology in the development of literacy. All governments should make use of technology to improve literacy rates and inspire people to learn how to read and write.

Ms Tim Chanthala, a volunteer at the National Library: I think it has to begin with parents. Children’s development depends on what their parents give and teach them. If all parents encourage their children to learn to read I think illiteracy would decline. And if governments lowered the cost of schooling for people on low incomes, it would make it easier for parents to give their children an education.
Ms Syphaphone Inthavong, a resident of Xaythany district, Vientiane: I urge the government to raise the standard of education and provide more opportunities for disadvantaged people. I would establish good quality schools in rural areas – the same as schools in towns – then offer a high salary to the best teachers in remote areas. Then I would do everything possible to inspire adults and young people to understand the importance of reading. I call on the authorities to be more inclusive when it comes to communities in rural areas. I believe that the future of our planet lies in sustainable development, and that is based on the development of our human resources.
Ms Phoukham Thongphanith, an official at the National Library: Educating people throughout the world requires motivating and inspiring them. Some people are lazy and don’t want to learn, so it’s hard to force them to. But everyone should try and continue to practise writing and reading. If everybody in every country does that, it will certainly enable a lot more people to get an education. In my opinion, government officials in every country should visit schools in impoverished areas and then do what they can to raise the standard of education in rural communities.

Mr Souksavanh Mathouchan, a resident of Sisattanak district, Vientiane: Learning is a difficult process but reading and writing is essential in order to be able to communicate with other people. Everyone should at least know how to read even if you can’t write. My message is “please begin learning today – it’s never too late”. Our government needs to have a much bigger education budget and then make it compulsory for all children aged six and up to attend school, with no dropouts allowed.

Ms Khanphathat Manotham, an official at the National Library: The government needs to start by improving the standard of our teachers. Then they should be offered a decent salary and given positions at schools in rural areas. I also think it’s important to have schools especially for elderly people who have never had an education. I think this would be very helpful. At home I often teach my grandparents how to read texts or messages because they don’t know how to. They said they’d like to know so they could make a trip arranged by a travel agent.

By Phouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update September 8, 2018)

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