The TADLO.NET Project: Connecting Lao Youth to Computers
This article was first published by our friends at Teamworkz Asia. View the original article on their blog, The Slow Boat.
By Cindy Fan
Internet connectivity is recognized as a world development indicator and is closely related to a country’s economic development and infrastructure. This is why projects like the Tadlo Computer Education Center (TCEC) are so vital to Laos, a developing nation. Laos lags behind in global rankings of Internet connectivity. According to latest World Bank data on Internet users, in 2010, only 7% of the population of Laos had access to the worldwide network, well below the East Asia & Pacific region’s average of 35.2%. In comparison, the United States was at 74.2% and the United Kingdom was at 84.7%.
If you’re visiting Tad Lo waterfall on the Bolaven Plateau in Salavan province, southern Laos, pay a visit to the TCEC, the central objective of Tadlo.net, a development project and local initiative that offers free computer training and English lessons to local students of Ban Sane Vang village.
Tad Lo waterfall, Bolaven Plateau, southern Laos
The center has made huge strides in the community since its modest beginnings in 2002. In addition to having a network of 20 computers and Internet connection to the rural area, the school now has an attached library where children can read and study. Students not only use the computers as an educational tool for learning, the computer training provides practical, professional skills in communication, digital media and data processing. These skills will aid them in job prospects and social mobility in a province that is still predominantly dependent on subsistence agriculture.
Public expenditure on education in Laos is woefully low. According to the CIA World Factbook, in 2008, Laos spent only 2.3% of their GDP on education, ranking 151 out of 163 countries. Access to education in remoter areas is limited.
The Tadlo.net project is funded by donations and proceeds from the town Internet cafe, located at Tim’s Restaurant & Guesthouse, owned by the family of TCEC director Soulideth Soumpholphakdy. He is one of the committed residents of Ban Sane Vang striving to improve the education and prospects of youth in the community.
Tim’s Guesthouse & Restaurant: proceeds from their Internet cafe go towards TCEC
How to Get Involved
There are various ways you can help Tadlo.net. Financial donations are welcome. They accept computer hardware, English books, teaching and school supplies. There are also volunteer opportunities.
Getting to Tad Lo
Tad Lo waterfall is a popular attraction on the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos. Travellers flock to the site for a few days of relaxation, often cooling off with a dip in the swimming holes of Tad Hang, the lower falls. Tad Lo waterfall is one of the highlights of Stray Asia’s 7-day “Phone Noy” tour of southern Laos. Or see Tad Lo on a 3-day “Ho Chi Minh Discovery” tour, beginning and ending in Pakse.
Photos by Cindy Fan
About the Author: Cindy Fan
Cindy Fan is a Canadian travel writer and photographer. She is The Slow Boat‘s digital nomad, blogging and tweeting her journeys through Southeast Asia. Also connect with her @cindyisAWOL and www.cindyfan.com.