World Education provides technical advising and project management expertise to build the capacity of a local organization so it is able to lead and effectively monitor the literacy component of the World Food Programme (WFP) Food for Education project in northern Laos. Through workshops, trainings, and coaching, World Education helps the organization conduct Early Grade Reading Assessments (EGRA) and improve its monitoring, evaluation and project management capacity to ensure its ability to carry out activities throughout the duration of its partnership with WFP.
USAID Okard is a five-year project that promotes the independence and functional ability of persons with disabilities through equal access to health and social services in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund and Victims of Torture Program, and the U.S. Department of State, USAID Okard partners with the Lao government and civil society to develop and implement disability inclusive policies so that no one is left behind.
Persons with disabilities are among society’s most marginalized populations. Some of the major causes of disabilities in Laos are unexploded ordnance (UXO), road accidents and increasingly, non- communicable diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and stunting. Equal access to health and social services will foster inclusivity of persons with disabilities in their communities and allow them to contribute more effectively to society.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Okard project partners with the public and private sectors to support persons with disabilities in the areas of health, economic empowerment and stakeholder engagement. It uses a systems-centered approach focusing on government ownership of disability inclusive policies and development of physical rehabilitation and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services for long-term sustainability. The project also applies a person-centered approach addressing the individual needs of persons with disabilities and the communities that support them. The project is primarily implemented in Vientiane Capital and in the provinces of Xieng Khouang and Savannakhet.
USAID Okard directly addresses the health, livelihoods and social needs of persons with disabilities, using an evidence-based model to demonstrate tangible change in communities and the lives of persons with disabilities. This contributes to strengthening government systems and decision-making in support of the National Disability Policy and the National Rehabilitation Strategy.
USAID Okard trains health and rehabilitation service providers, supports health centers to provide assistive products at the local level and promotes rehabilitation as a standard component of healthcare services. It also supports Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) through trainings of service providers, counselor and peer-counseling.
The project engages with a variety of partners including non-profit associations, governmental bodies and the private sector to implement inclusive vocational training courses, integrate persons with disabilities into the labor force and provide market-based livelihood opportunities.
USAID Okard assists the Ministry of Health and the National Committee for Disabled People and the Elderly to better coordinate organizations and institutions that support persons with disabilities. In addition, the project strengthens disabilities-focused organizations’ engagement with the Government of Laos to advance the rights of persons with disabilities, mobilize grassroots networks and engage persons with disabilities in policy design and implementation.
USAID Okard promotes greater economic self-sufficiency, improved functional ability and the well- being of persons with disabilities and their households, especially those who have mobility limitations. The project works towards creating an environment in which persons with disabilities are empowered to actively participate in society.
- Improved access to health and rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities and their households.
- More persons with disabilities and their households employed or self-employed.
- A more supportive environment for the sustainability of health and economic empowerment improvements.
- Strengthened health systems with rehabilitation and MHPSS included in the continuum of care.
Funded by the U.S. government, the Comprehensive Mine Risk Education (MRE) Project aims to reduce injury and death from unexploded ordnance (UXO) by informing school-age children about how to protect themselves and their peers. Formerly known as the UXO Education and Awareness Project, World Education (WEI) began developing a primary school curriculum about UXO safety in 1996. While the number of UXO accidents in Laos has decreased significantly since that time, children represented 53% of UXO casualties from 2016 to 2018, which demonstrates a continuing need to disseminate MRE to children. Today, the project reaches young people at risk of UXO accidents through curriculum in the formal education system as well as through puppetry performances at the community level. The overall emphasis is on building the capacity of the Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES) to manage MRE in the future. In the current three-year project period (2018-2020), the MRE project added Bolikhamxay as a target province and now reaches all 88 districts in Xieng Khouang, Luang Prabang, Houaphan, Khammouane, Sekong, Champassak, Savannakhet, Saravane, Attapeu, and Bolikhamxay provinces. Project activities include:
- Supporting the Government of Laos to integrate MRE into the national primary school curriculum, enabling over 500,000 children in 5,820 primary schools to receive messages about UXO safety;
- Developing a new handbook for teaching MRE in secondary schools;
- Ensuring 3,800 student teachers in the eight Teacher Training Colleges throughout Laos will learn how to teach MRE in primary schools.
- Enabling 220 puppetry troupes in primary schools to disseminate MRE to thousands of fellow students and community members throughout Laos.
WEI has developed a comprehensive UXO curriculum which includes a teacher guide, storybooks, songbooks, and posters for each primary school grade (grades 1-5). In the current project period, WEI is supporting MOES to integrate MRE lessons into the national primary school science and environment curriculum. As part of the national curriculum, MRE lessons will reach every primary school student in Laos. The MRE Project and MOES are also designing and piloting a new secondary school MRE handbook for the first time. The MRE curriculum emphasizes participatory learning, featuring student-centered activities and messages that are easy to understand and recall.
To further ensure the dissemination of MRE, the Project facilitates Trainings of Trainers (ToTs) to teach in-service teachers how to utilize the MRE curriculum in their classrooms. WEI also works closely with the eight Teacher Training Colleges of Laos (TTC) to develop MRE teacher training materials, support professors to teach MRE, include MRE in summer refresher courses for in-service teachers, and ensure all final year TTC students are prepared to teach MRE.
To complement the in-school MRE, the MRE puppetry program involves children and teachers from high-UXO risk communities to develop puppetry performances to bring the education about UXO out of the classroom and into communities. In 1999, WEI contracted the National Puppet Theater of Laos to train teachers to establish the first MRE puppetry troupes in Xieng Khouang, Houaphan, Savannakhet and Saravane Provinces. Today, WEI has worked with MOES to establish more than 88 troupes which perform on Teacher’s Day and Children’s Day, reaching between 70,000 and 80,000 community members each year throughout the 10 target provinces. Based on the success of these troupes, WEI will increase the number of puppetry troupes to 220 during the current project period to deliver MRE to even more community members and provide an engaging complement to the formal curriculum.
Between 1964 and 1973, more than 240 million cluster bomb sub-munitions were dropped in Laos. 80 million of these bombs failed to explode and continue to pose a hazard to civilians. Since 1964, approximately 20,000 people have been killed or wounded by unexploded ordnance (UXO), many of them in remote and rural areas. Medical treatment, physical rehabilitation, and mental health services are extremely limited throughout Laos, and poor communications and transport networks prevent survivors and their families from accessing services, which are concentrated in provincial capitals.
Since 1996, World Education has supported UXO survivors through administering the War Victims Medical Fund (WVMF), funded by the U.S. government. More than 1,000 UXO survivors have received support from the WVMF for their emergency and ongoing medical costs. Since July 2016, World Education operates the fund in partnership with the National Regulatory Authority, the government agency in charge of UXO issues.
The fund provides essential support to anyone injured by UXO nationwide, covering
- Immediate and ongoing medical care
- Surgery costs
- Dental services
- Assistive devices
- Transportation within Laos
- Accommodation during hospital stay
- Food allowance during hospital stay (including two family members)
- Contribution towards a religious ceremony or funeral
View the WVMF Pamphlet in English or WVMF Pamphlet in Lao for more details.
For more information about accessing the WVMF, contact the NRA hotline at 1603 or World Education at (856-21) 214524.
The WVMF does not cover the cost of other services that enable UXO survivors and their family members to sustain their livelihoods and resume their daily activities. Some victims cannot return to working on the farm and benefit from vocational training to learn a new trade. Children may need additional support to return to school. World Education works with local partners to provide these additional skills and assistance through funds raised by private donations. Please click here to make a donation. After you enter a donation amount, select “Donate to a specific project,” and enter “War Victims Medical Fund, Laos” in the corresponding box.
Watch a video about UXO survivors and the help they have received through World Education: