World Teachers' Day, celebrated each year on October 5, was established by UNESCO in 1994 to recognize the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development.
In honor of World Teachers' Day today, we bring you the story of one teacher in Laos dedicated to ensuring her students gain the literacy skills necessary to succeed in the classroom and beyond. She is one of hundreds of teachers participating in our Literacy Instruction program across Asia and Southern Africa, all of whom we celebrate today.
In many cases, our Literacy Instruction program finds teachers a little nervous to break away from established teaching methods and experiment with something new—especially given the existing academic targets they are already working towards for the year. There are exceptions to every rule however, and Phoukham Bounthavy is one of them.
Ms. Bounthavy is a teacher at Sengsavang Complete Primary School in an urban village of northwest Laos, and since her very first Room to Read training session has been enthusiastic about participating in the program.
Having joined during the program’s pilot phase, Ms. Bounthavy was convinced right away that introducing new teaching methods into her classroom would help improve her students’ budding literacy skills.
After her training, Ms. Bounthavy returned to school, armed with colorful posters, charts, flash cards and books to help turn her classroom into a more effective learning environment. “The children took to the new curriculum like ducks to water,” she says with newfound confidence, noting that in particular the activity-based teaching kept her students engaged throughout the duration of the lesson—their hands flying in the air to answer questions.
Always eager to improve, she prodded them, “if you find that I’m not doing something correctly, please let me know—I’m not afraid of criticism.”
It wasn’t long before her willingness to try new things began paying dividends. Almost without exception, her students became more confident in their mastery of the alphabet, and seemed to enjoy their lessons more. At the end of the year when the time for student evaluations came, her class of young readers was ranked the best in the school.
“I am very happy that I was included in the Literacy Pilot program” says Ms. Bounthavy. “I have become a better instructor and now have more confidence that my students understand the lessons.”