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Sao Bien: Room for Education
The first Sao Bien projects were all located in the Northern part of Vietnam, which is very mountainous and very poor. Sao Bien aims to expand its activities into the Central and Southern part of Vietnam and to work nationwide.
Once a decision on location has been made, coordination with local authorities and the planning of building construction takes place. In particular, cooperation with local authorities would be impossible without reliable and well-connected local partner organizations.
Decisions regarding the number of, or the size of classrooms are always taken in close coordination with local authorities. This ensures the project matches specific needs of the particular village. The final decision is then taken by Sao Bien’s board.
While some preparation work and transportation is executed with strong support and involvement of the local population, construction of the building itself is undertaken by local construction companies. Due to poor or sometimes impossible access by road, a steel-based construction with a solid foundation is usually favoured in order to mitigate logistic problems.
A typical school project includes two or three classrooms with furniture, a teachers’ room, a toilet and electricity. If possible, solar panels are used.
Teachers’ rooms are essential to enable teachers to live in the village, as the poor roads do not allow them to return to their home village every day. Agreements with local authorities ensure the proper use of he building after completion and that the ongoing costs are borne by the local authorities.
The average costs of a project are around Euro 10,000. One school gives around 40 children access to quality education. The lifetime of a school (steel-based construction) is around 20 years and thus will improve the lives and futures of several generations of primary school children.
Vietnam has 63 provinces consisting of several communities with a State-financed school in the communities’ main villages. The children of the villages belonging to this community are supposed to attend this school. Due to the distance and lack of proper infrastructure – no roads, not to mention school buses – this is often not possible. Therefore children, some of whom are only 6 or 7 years old, have to live in dorms next to the community school during the week, far away from their families.
Alternatively, so-called satellite schools, i.e. schools in the remote villages, have been built which allow children the opportunity to stay with their families. This is what Sao Bien does.
Sao Bien replaces very outdated satellite schools in especially poor conditions which do not allow regular classes, or builds schools in villages that had no satellite school at all which required children to attend a school far away. The construction of safe and weather-proof school buildings should significantly increase the attendance in lessons.
Here are before and after photos of a school we built to replace the outdoor makeshift classroom.
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