LAOS / LANGUAGE BARRIER

03-Mar-2010 00:02:49
UNICEF is supporting schools that teach Laos, the official language, to children who speak one of a dozen local dialects. This is to ensure that children from ethnic groups get the support they need to cross the language barrier in primary school and avoid the risk of exclusion from mainstream society. UNICEF
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STORY: LAOS / LANGUAGE BARRIER
TRT: 2.49
SOURCE: UNICEF
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: LAO/ NATS

DATELINE: SEPTEMBER 2009, TAMY, LAOS
SHOTLIST
1. Various shots, Akha family eating breakfast
2. Med shot, Chapa eating onion
3. Med shot, Sutcha speaking Akha
4. Med shot, boy on porch of Sutcha’s house
5. Various shots, Chapa leaving house in school uniform
6. Wide shot, Chapa and other children walking through village to school
7. Pan right, classroom at Tamy primary school
8. Close up, Chapa writing at her desk
9. Wide shot, teacher at blackboard
10. Various shots, children at school
11. SOUNDBITE (Lao) Bunthieng Keovanglart, District Education Advisor:
“Ethnic languages are very important in the classroom, especially for grade one and grade two students, as these children cannot speak Lao at all. Teachers must have at least a basic knowledge of the local language, before they can start teaching in schools like this one.”
12. Various shots, teacher writing at table
13. Pan left, teacher walks from teacher’s room to class
14. Various shots, teacher and children in class
15. SOUNDBITE (Lao) Sano, Primary School Teacher:
“If someone understands Lao language, they can travel around the country to study or to work. But anyone who can’t speak Lao is unable to communicate with other people, so they have to stay in their own village or work in the fields.”
16. Med shot, boy ringing school bell
17. Wide shot, children running to thatch reading hut.
18. Close up, children inside reading hut
19. Close up, children reading Lao alphabet book
20. Med shot, children reading with teachers watching
21. Various shots, children singing Lao song
STORYLINE
Breakfast time in the household of rice-farmer Sutcha, his wife and their family is the most important meal of the day, not least for nine-year old Chapa, the eldest of the couple’s four children, and the only one currently attending school.

The language the family speaks is Akha, one of dozens of tongues that make up the complex linguistic and ethnic quilt that is modern-day Laos. It’s also the reason why Chapa and other children in this mountain village close to the border with China face an additional challenge in order to receive an education.

The curriculum taught in the local primary school is in Lao, the country’s official language. To most Akha children, Lao is as foreign as English or French. As a result, schools make special provision to ensure that children from ethnic groups get the support they need to cross the language barrier and avoid the risk of exclusion from mainstream society.

SOUNDBITE (Lao) Bunthieng Keovanglart, District Education Advisor:
“Ethnic languages are very important in the classroom, especially for grade one and grade two students, as these children cannot speak Lao at all. Teachers must have at least a basic knowledge of the local language, before they can start teaching in schools like this one.”

It’s in this challenging context that teachers like Sano become such an important asset. She herself is Akha, and didn’t start learning Lao until she was a teenager. With the bi-lingual skills she possesses today, she can help her students gain the confidence in speaking, reading and writing in Lao that will be essential tools if they are to move on in life outside the confines of the village.

SOUNDBITE (Lao) Sano, Primary School Teacher:
“If someone understands Lao language, they can travel around the country to study or to work. But anyone who can’t speak Lao is unable to communicate with other people, so they have to stay in their own village or work in the fields.”

The village’s school is one of over 1,100 schools applying a UNICEF-backed strategy to improve the quality of primary education in Lao PDR
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