Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Coconut Creativity and ECD TV

Saysomboun is a newly established province in the north of Lao PDR. It is an area rich in ethnic groups who still speak their own language and also the Lao language. One of the new provincial authority's priorities is to work to improve the education of children in the area with limited funding and human resources. But the impact of UNICEF’s ECD TV “My Village” project is being seen in unexpected ways with children of the region...

While driving through a mountainous town in Anouvong district, we spotted two little girls playing on shoes made of coconut shells. Something about this picture seemed very familiar. We slowed our car and watched how the children were playing with the coconut shoes. They were walking and scrambling around, playfully enjoying their makeshift fruity footwear. The two little girls, Fon and Own, were soon the centre of attention. Other children also began to join in and asked them if they too could try the coconut shoes. We were so compelled by this sight we probed a little further and began to speak to the children. A female volunteer colleague from UNICEF’s Youth Radio programme and I walked towards them and suddenly one of the girls shouted out: “Oh! This is the lady that showed us the video yesterday at school on ‘Have fun with coconut’!” After this we realised that these girls must be among the children at a rural school Ban Phou Hua sang where we screened ECD TV the previous day.

We asked who made their coconut shoes. They said it was easy. They made them by themselves using shells their mother had thrown away after cooking Khao Tom (rice mixed with coconut milk and sugar). Since they didn’t have many toys, Fon proposed to Own to try making shoes like in the “My Village” episode “Have Fun with Coconut” they had seen the previous day at school activities. Mr Seulee, a director of Ban Phou Houasang School said the children learn quickly from the show, “It is good for their well-being and brain development. The ECD TV that the team from Vientiane showed yesterday really helps our children’s learning, development and creativity.”

Ms Mai Yor Lee, a Director of Children Cultural Center also said that: “More than 500 school and pre-school children were rushing to watch the ECD TV. Since we do not have space for everyone, we asked them to take turn watching ECD TV in a classroom.” Considering that, she will include ECD TV as one of the activities of the Children Cultural Centre of Saysomboun province.

Story and Photo by Tabongphet Phouthavong, UNICEF Communication Specialist.

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