Our Work

Model Development for Sustainable and Scalable School Health

The Fit for School Program in Lao PDR began in 2012 with the identification of model schools, followed by district-led school community orientations and community-led construction of group washing facilities. A baseline for the Program Assessment Study was also conducted and the program was officially launched in October 2012.

By 2014, the experiences and learnings from model schools were consolidated into the School Community Manual for Lao PDR  as well as the Basic Orientation Video for Lao PDR. At the end of 2014, the MoES Lao PDR, GIZ and SEAMEO INNOTECH conducted a scale-up readiness assessment. From there MoES decided to gradually scale up the FIT interventions to other districts within Vientiane Capital as well as to other provinces in the country.

Successful Scale-up in Sisattanak District

One of the model districts, Sisattanak district, was able to expand the program from five model schools to almost all primary schools in the district (22 public primary schools and 17 private primary schools) on their own initiative. The results of a qualitative study on this ‘Sisattanak scale-up case’ were used to document the learning on processes and mechanisms used to initiate and manage the scaleup. Those learnings are now used for other districts to learn from in form of a video for district management level. In additon the learnings and findings will be published as a ‘research update’ together with the regional partner SEAMEO INNOTECH.

MoES national level scale-up planning and initiative

After the scale-up readiness assessement at the ende of 2014 MoES identified diffeernt options to scale-up the programme in Lao PDR. The decided to scale up the programme to all 9 districts in Vientiane Capital and the MoES provincial office and school health task force organised trainings and school visits for the remaining 5 districts.

Furthermore MoES decided to introduce the programme to at least one model school in all provinces in Lao PDR. In Septmeber 2015 MoES conducted a four-day orientation training for representatives from all 18 provinces and 23 district teams (one per province) to orient them about the programme. Sisattanak district was involved and supported the training by sharing their experiences. The training included model school visits in Vientiane. The training was fully organised, financed and conducted by the MoES, which shows high commitment and ownership for the programme.

Alignment and Collaboration for WASH in Schools

A collaboration between MoES, World Vision and GIZ Fit for school started in 2015. This collaboration aims to introduce the programme to 11 schools in 2 provinces. A new prefabricated group washing facility type, the so called WASHaLOT will be installed in schools under this collaboration. The partnership aligns efforts of different partners in the field of WASH in Schools in Laos to support government partners in their efforts to scale-up evidence based programmes.

A joint publication of all WASH partners was published in 2014 with contribution of the regional Fit for School Programme. ‘Raising Clean Hands in Lao PDR’, describes successful examples for WASH in schools in Lao PDR and all partners agreed on a ‘Joint Call to Action’ to support government partners to implement and scale-up evidence based WinS programmes based on the ‘Three Star Approach for WASH in Schools’. This approach promotes a gradual and stepwise approach to improve the situation on WASH in Schools, which is a key principle of the Fit for School approach.

Research, Monitoring and Evaluation

Lao PDR was part of the Regional Fit for Program Assessment Study, a 2-year longitudinal cohort study that aims to determine the effects of the programme interventions on health status, school attendance, and WASH indicators in schools. The MoES and the MoH, together with University partners conducted the data collection with support from the GIZ Fit for School research team. The data collection by government partners aimed at building national research capacity and increasing ownership of results. In summary, the findings from the study are:

School Health Situation in FIT Intervention and Control schools in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR Benefits of the FIT Programme
  • High prevalence of thinness (1 out of 4 children)
  • High prevalence of dental caries (9 out of 10 children had tooth decay in their primary dentition)
  • Relatively low prevalence of worm infections (1 out of 10 children)
  • Significantly improves access to handwashing facilities, water and soap
  • Stimulates healthy hygiene practices, such as the practice of individual handwashing with soap at critical times
  • Contributes to a general culture of cleanliness
  • Prevents new dental caries by 38%

Regular monitoring was conducted in all model schools, using the adapted Fit for School monitoring tool. The monitoring process is a self-assessment involving different stakeholders on school and community level and aims to ensure good implementation quality and community involvement.