The Sopkay Village School Project
The school was completed in the fall of 2010. Opportunity for All's Al O'Connor and Anne Studabaker visited Sopkay in November 2010 to take part in the official handover ceremony where the school was presented to the village. Some of the photos taken on that trip are below. You can read more about the details of the visit here.
The Sopkay Village School Project
Opportunity for All and Room to Read Laos will partner with the Sopkay Complete Primary School Construction Committee and the Students’ Guardian Association to build a four-room primary school in the fall of 2010. The new building will be made of brick, cement, and reinforced concrete and will have a concrete slab floor, a sheet-metal roof, and a wood ceiling in each room. The rooms will measure 6m x 7m. Three rooms will be used as classrooms and one room will be used as a library. Due to the relatively low enrollment at this school, it will operate multi-grade classrooms after construction is complete. A separate, two-room toilet will be built adjacent to the school.
Sopkay Village is located in the mountains of northern Laos on the road that leads to Vietnam. This village has 78 households representing a population of 534. The main ethnic group living here is the Lao Theung. Travel in this area is convenient in the dry season but very difficult during the rainy season due to landslides. The principal economic activities include farming, especially the planting of sugar cane and rice. The weather is generally good all year round, with a cold winter from December to March (the lowest temperatures are near zero Celsius) followed by a dry season from April to May. The rainy season lasts from June to October. Houses are built primarily in the Lao Theung style and are made of wood, bamboo, and concrete. The village has a gravity-feed water system and toilets but lacks electricity.
The Current Situation
Sopkay Village has a complete primary school that offers grades 1 - 5 and serves students from five villages. This school was built by the community using readily available local materials and wood from the forest. The current building is made of wood, with an old sheet-metal roof that leaks and a dirt floor. It is unsafe in windy and rainy weather, and classes cannot be held under these conditions. The community understands the importance of education and would like their children to continue studying. For this reason they asked Room to Read for funding to build a more robust school where the students could study in safety and comfort. In addition to the obvious need for a better building, our team was impressed with the energy of the members of this community and their commitment to educating their children.
Community Contribution to the Project
- Volunteer labor for all unskilled work required by the project
- Wood for the roof structure and ceiling frame
- Backfill soil as needed for the foundation and sand for concrete
- Security during the construction period
- Official certification of UXO clearance
- Legal title for land belonging to the school
- A source of water for the new school building
- Work with local education authorities to ensure teachers are available for the school
- Monitoring of materials purchasing to ensure quality, quantity, and transparency
- Community contribution of 22% of the total project cost