Reading with Elephants

Reading with Elephants

Reading is not common practice amongst the local people of the Lao PDR, illiteracy is high amongst rural communities, whilst resources remain scarce and when available, are often uninspiring.

Working in partnership with Community Learning International (CLI), ElefantAsia, with your help, wishes to implement further Elephant Mobile Libraries to promote the literacy within schools in rural areas of northern Laos.

The Elephant Mobile Libraries have an innovative approach to encourage literacy within schoolchildren by distributing Lao language resources using retired logging elephants. Capable of carrying up to 150kg, this making for a lot of books, delivery with elephants has dual purpose. Agile, elephants are able to access remote areas where roads and access routes are nonexistent allowing our libraries to reach those schools most in need, whilst interaction with the elephants increases knowledge of the endangered species and understanding of elephant behaviour amongst both young people and local communities.

Elephants become ambassadors of knowledge distributing resources and storybooks including ElefantAsia's own book 'Xang Phuan Keo' an elephant book designed for children. One 5-day mission can reach up to 900 children meaning the Asian elephant is perceived in a positive light by many young minds.

An extended trunk presents each child with a storybook whilst an additional selection of books and posters are presented to each school. Environmental awareness is also actively promoted through the implementation of activities based on a 'fun and learn' philosophy while visiting each school. After receiving their books, many of the children attentively read each page where they stand, whilst others simply clutch their book to their chest like a prized possession, which in most cases it is, the book likely being the first item the child has ever owned.

For many years CLI has promoted reading amongst rural communities using their book boats. Meandering along the Mekong River and its tributaries has enabled CLI to deliver thousands of books to remote villages. This project will work to combine nautical miles and the agility of the elephants, meaning together ElefantAsia and CLI can work to access remoter areas then ever before and as such we plan to expand our activities in rural Sayaboury, as well as develop activities in the provinces of Oudomxay and Luang Prabang.

 

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