On October 17, 2008 I made a visit to Dannavieng Elementary School in Muang Phonethong, Champasak Province. This is one of the four schools that received a Book Box Library in February of 2007. Dannavieng Elementary School also received additional financial assistance with their school building project.
The school kept us posted on the progress of the project (Dannavieng’s school building project updated news, Updated news from Dannavieng school) and even though the new building is not quite completed, school was in full session since the fall of 2007.
I met with the superintendent of the school and asked about where they are currently with the project since the last updated news. He told me at the moment there is no funding to go on to the next stage like putting down concrete floor for example. The villagers have already been asked earlier this year to make contributions for the new road to their local wat or temple. Thus, the school building project was put on hold for the time being until the next collection time around Lao New Year in March or April of 2009.
At present, the only room that has a locked door and windows with locks is the one in the middle of the building. It is being used as an office for the superintendent and teachers and also where the book box library is being kept in a safe place so all the students can share the books during their activity period.
After some chit chat with the superintendent I went next door to the second grade class to visit the students and toured the rest of the school. It was Friday and a few of the students took an extra day off after the Boat Racing Festival in Pakse.
After a brief visit with the second graders I decided to tour one class at a time starting with the kindergarten class so I don’t get all the photos mix up.
The kindergarten class at Dannavieng school is not located in the new school building but in the old one on the left side of the new building. The superintendent and the teachers informed me they were hoping to have a separate building for the kindergarten class after the completion of the new building project. The school would have been completed sooner but due to the sudden death of the senior monk (Louang Phou) at the local temple the progress has been very slow.
Louang Phou was very supportive of the project and has been very generous to the school. Now, the villagers rely on a fund that is being collected once a year to pay for building materials and the cost of construction and any assistance from other individual donors.
The kindergarten classroom is very dirty and limited in terms of supplies. There is no table or chair and they use a few wooden beds for the students to sit on a plastic rugs. When it rains the students would go home with red mud on their shoes. The villagers are currently talking about having the fifth graders trading places with the preschoolers because they are worried about the health of the young students. These little ones are a little over four years old and the villagers realized this is not in the best of their interest to be going to school in such a condition. You can see how much they have in terms of resources. Even the teacher goes to work and have a nursery for the infants.
I later made a visit to the first grade class, which is in the first room of the new building. After that, I went to check out the third grade class and they are busy with drawing various tools like basket or a fishing net.
I had a fun time asking each of them what they were drawing or trying to draw and some of them had a good laugh at me for guessing what they were drawing and not knowing the name of fishing equipments being used locally.
The last set of photos from my visit to Dannavieng Elementary School on October 17, 2008. This is the fourth grade class and they were busy with their reading time. Last but not least the fifth grade class. Next year these students will be attending middle school across the street from their current school.I wonder if these students are distracted from their study with the toilet stalls right next to their windows.
Video clips of my visit to Dannavieng Elementary School.
The visit was too short but it was time to head off to NongDong Elementary School before the end of the day.