08.07.2018

Personal Review July 2018

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After two years of project work supported by Kindermissionswerk (Die Sternsinger), we can present our results.


If we compare the "done" and "have to be done" values, the results are awesome.
We had several indicators (project goals) that indicated the success.

 

Project goals after 2 years supported by Sternsinger

 
Aim 
Done 
reached Primarystudents2000more than
10 000
Primary and Kindergarten Teachers145726
Coreteam Members 
(Lecturers)
86
Trainer at the College 12
Students
at TTC
500518
Materialboxes for rural schools 100717

Except for the numbers of lecturers, these are amazing results.


In addition to these fixed numbers there are also other clues.

  • We expanded the planned workshop / library / showroom better than planned, especially in the last phase of the project.
    The college provided us a larger space, we have a well-functioning work environment and command center.
  • There is a lot of traffic from students now and we can train the practical part of the workshops right there.
    We were able to reach more elementary school teachers and kindergarten educators than planned. Continuing education in the area of ​​student orientation, methods and learning materials is now a part of summer courses. The project team worked together to develop the lessons for this purpose.
    The lecturers have greatly improved the preparation, the lessons themselves and the documentation.

What are the lessons learnt?
What kind of  thinking and behavior had to be adapted?

Laos is a tough place!
You will find all kinds of obstacles getting in the way of reaching a better lifestyle.

It is most important to set positive impacts in school education.
For a few lecturers and teachers it is their first contact with learning methods such as partner work, group work, individual work and especially with hands-on teaching material.
They need time to work with the materials by themselves first.
The expectations should not be too high, because they cannot be fulfilled, neither by the teachers nor the lecturers.
The level of knowledge and the training of teachers in the country is more than inadequate.
Primary school teachers and lecturers are poorly paid, so that most families still have 2 to 3 side jobs.
We have made great progress, but I expected more in the beginning.

Meanwhile, I know that it is already a big step to motivate the teachers to dare new ways, to take different perspectives and to tailor their class time towards their students' needs.
It has been confirmed that the use of learning materials in the classroom is the best way to reach this aim.

How we still managed to achieve these results.

  • The project has remained my project, that means that there is an extremely flat hierarchy and a high degree of flexibility.
  • I had some support from volunteers from Germany. Thanks Bastian, Doro, Thomas and Laura.
  • Our Laotian Coreteam has become smaller, but works more concentrated.
  • The decision not to be in Laos for the whole project period, but to support the team from Germany in part-time, was a great help for the team and for myself in finding sustainability.
  • Since last year I have a Laotian assistant who can work fulltime for the project.
  • Concerning the technical equipment, we are on a good way, we are working with an online knowledgebase and can save our team work, planning and documentation all in one place. This saves time and energy.
  • The project and the learning workshop have established themselves and serve as a flagship for the college.
  • Through the college we were able to engage directly with primary school teachers from 4 provinces and to bring a new subject to the curriculum.
  • Teachers were able to work out the material boxes themselves and bring them to their village schools, which saved a lot of logistics and travel costs.
  • For the school tours we were able to pick out the very interested village school teachers, who then invited interested closed by village schools to the workshop.
  • Our Coreteam had the opportunity to explore different teaching methods and think outside the box.
    In Thailand and at the International School in Vientiane, we had an intensive time of learning; the understanding has grown very much.
  • NOW we feel a fresh breeze from above:
    In 2019, a new curriculum for elementary schools is introduced by the government.
    This curriculum can not be implemented without understanding teaching methods and material.
    Our project is well in time to support in this field.


Where are the challenges, what can we do better?

We have been strongly driven by emerging requirements that exactly fit our goals.
On top, we had to manage the finances, submit project reports, hold steering committees and repeatedly write documents for each activity.
The skills of the team had to be strengthened for these activities as well.

At the moment inventory must be done, a detailed final report is pending. At the same time, we also have the new course for 144 teachers and a workshop for 63 students coming up.

These situation leads to a lack in focus on the important tasks. We have a lot of material information, that is about 70-90% ready but not ready to be published. The team needs time and rest as well as further support.

 

Finances

For the 2 years, money from friends and family, funds from the Stern singers and support from the college were available.

The project has done more than planned and expected and yet, the estimated money has been enough.


This can be explained by

  • the very careful and economical way of using the donations
  • the additional support of the SES +30 the Senior Expert Service from Germany
  • in summer courses, teachers from 4 provinces came to the Teacher Training College, so that we were able to send the materials to the village schools without travel and transportation costs (that was a big help)
  • with a lot of creativity we set up our learning workshop - good functionality - little cost
  • the usage of donated computers and projectors
  • a Lao assistant instead of a volunteer from Germany
  • very low staff costs
     

Personal thoughts and the future

I have also experienced disappointments here, it is an exhausting work and not always easy, but I still LOVE this PROJECT.

When you see the children, how enthusiastically and quickly they understand the materials, and see how necessary independent thought patterns are here, it is worth every effort. We are on such a good way, but there is still a lack of substance, that is being left behind.
I already have a plan for the future. The aim is to keep letting go and giving away more and more responsibility.

But after this phase, it's time to go home. I am so happy.
My assistant Chansamone will accompany me, she will stay in Germany for 10 weeks *. She will visit elementary schools  and kindergartens, take an English Intensive Course, and attend Franconian International school for 4 weeks.
Chansamone will then return to Laos to support the material room and work full-time on project activities. The college continues to provide the house and a motorbike for her. The support of the Coreteam will also be continued in the near future. We want to be able to produce further learning materials and distribute them to primary schools.
I AM GRATEFUL FOR EVERY DONATION.
Hopefully by 2019, I have found another source of funding. I will continue to manage the team from home.
And I will stay at home for at least 6 month.
Now it's time to downshift a gear, do the tasks at home and then gather new strength.

 

Many greetings

Doris

 
Elementary school teachers from the course in Feb - June 18
 
* Chansamone's travel expenses as well as food and lodging are taken over by Norbert and myself. No donations are used.
Chansamone is looking forward to seeing our home country. We are all looking forward to this time together and we hope to meet some of you.

 

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