Design For Change - Developing active, empathetic and creative thinkers in Laos

Design For Change - Developing active, empathetic and creative thinkers in Laos

Vientiane, LaosVientiane, Laos
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

DFC Laos uses an established experiential education model in the Lao context to inspire and empower students to be agents of change.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Lao education system does not foster the development of youth who are able to think critically and creatively, see things from others perspectives, empathize, solve problems for themselves, work independently, or collaborate with others. DFC responds directly to the ministry's vision for education by providing a child-centered, experiential and holistic process that engages students and fosters empathy, critical thinking, independence and community service. This will be beneficial to the development of Laos over the next years, and ensure that the youth are encouraged by the education system to be problem solvers, and reduce the reliance on foreign influence in the development process, while at the same time engaging students and their communities in education in general.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We will use Design for Change (DFC)(an established project-based learning program) in the Lao context with a group of 7 schools. DFC puts children at the centre of learning. It engages and empowers children by asking what bothers them, and by empathizing with people affected by that problem, they work together in small groups to design and implement creative solutions. We will support our pilot schools through the process this year, and their stories and experiences will be shared in Laos and with DFC world to promote DFC to the community and encourage other schools to participate in the future. As children choose issues that directly affect them, and must work with the people connected to those problems, they invariably involve the wider community in school activities. In the future, the stories from participating schools will be used to encourage the Ministry of Education to implement Design for Change, with the ultimate goal to have DFC as part of the national curriculum.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

On a large scale, this will hopefully impact the education system as a whole, providing a project-based approach to learning which has not been seen in Lao schools before. On an individual school level, DFC impacts every child that is involved. The DFC process - FEEL (identify problems, understand root causes and gain empathy), IMAGINE (generate solutions that tackle the root causes of your problem), DO (implement your solutions) and SHARE (reflect on the process and tell others what you have done)- has empathy, change and collaboration at its heart. Our curriculum and trainings, as well as mentoring, guides schools through this process. We share progress through facebook and our website, and the videos, readers and documentary will also help us to share the inspiration. At Sompanya School, one of the DFC challenge schools, the issue of exclusion and bullying came up in the feel stage, and in order to generate solutions, the students prepared for a week to understand the root causes and perspectives of all parties involved. They brainstormed positive and negative behaviours towards others, role played situations where people were included and excluded, made a strength quilt to focus on the positives of all members of the group, and watched a video on bullying. This enabled them to gain empathy for victims and bullies, see themselves as part of the problem and the solutions, and see how empowering positive behaviour can be. This has led them to generate meaningful and powerful solutions which promote solidarity, inclusion and friendship at their school.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are no direct competitors in Laos who are implementing DFC specifically or an empathy based project style of learning; however, others are engaged in trying to improve the state of the Lao education system to be more holistic and promote active and experiential learning in general. These are not so much competitors as peers, as we can learn from the best practice of others in terms of implementation and dealing with government officials.
About You
Particapatory Development Training Centre (PADETC)
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Particapatory Development Training Centre (PADETC)

Organization Country

, VT, Vientiane

Country where this project is creating social impact

, VT, Vientiane

Your role in Education


The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with

Private (tuition-based)

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

How long has your solution been in operation?

Operating for less than a year

Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

DFC Laos uses an established experiential education model in the Lao context to inspire and empower students to be agents of change.

Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

DFC asks children to express themselves, empathise and think and in a way that is vastly different to standard Lao education model.

Social Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Design for Change was implemented with one school in 2011, and this story has inspired 7 more schools to take the DFC Challenge. In 2012 the team has run introductory workshops, process training, and we are currently mentoring schools through the feel stage of the process. By participating in DFC schools are providing students with an engaging project based learning experience and a chance to realise that they too can make a difference. Students are getting the chance to engage in their own education and at the same time learning valuable life skills of gaining empathy, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills. Teachers too, while guiding students through this process, are more engaged and developing themselves professionally by increasing their exposure to experiential learning and ability to guide students through careful questioning techniques.
While in its infancy and still in need of refinement, the response to DFC so far in Laos has been positive.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

In 2012 we plan to mentor these 7 schools through the DFC challenge, collect videos, promote and share stories through a video and documentary screening, showcase DFC at the Asia-Europe People's Forum and if funding permits, produce DFC readers in Lao language to promote literacy and give something back to the schools that have participated. In the next 2 to 3 years, we would hope to secure support from the Ministry of Education in Laos, to scale up the project and use the stories and experiences from this year to improve our training and support and involve more schools in the challenge, especially rural schools. If continued funding is secured, we will continue the production of readers in Lao language to promote literacy and continue the SHARE stage of DFC to inspire others to join.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

There are potential barriers to success:
- Morale and participation of the challenge schools until the share stage - overcome with one on one mentoring and support
- Funding - overcome by continuing to seek funding from a range of sources
- Thinking and questioning capacity of the teachers / volunteers leading the process and clarity of Lao tools - overcome by improving the training process, video process in Lao language as another tool with the curriculum
- Relationship and support from MOE - overcome by linking with PADETC and their established close working relationship and trust
- Expanding to rural areas - geographic barriers - distance and terrain - overcome by testing the model in urban areas first, engage local volunteers to monitor in rural areas

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

DFC Challenge 2012 completed, DFC documentary completed and documentary and videos ready for screening

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Monitor the progress of 7 schools involved by phone, email and school visits (individual mentoring)

Task 2

Facilitate the filming at each school for Patoo Industries filmmakers , monitor the progress of the documentary production

Task 3

Gather videos from challenge participants, secure venue and promote screening event (documentary and videos) during AEPF

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Meet and present DFC to the Ministry of Education

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Reversion the Lao toolkit, curriculum, training videos, Lao DFC documentary and examples of school participation

Task 2

Prepare presentation within team, partner with PADETC staff to assist in meeting

Task 3

Arrange meeting, present ideas and encourage the use of DFC as a project based learning element of the national curriculum

Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]

Having watched Kiran Bir Sethi’s inspiring talk on in 2010 and then discovering the Design For Change website Anfernee was excited by the "I Can" message of DFC, as well as the power of what the children showcased in Kiran's talk had done in India. Anfernee saw DFC as a potential solution to the challenges being faced in schools in Laos where traditionally teachers spoke and students listened. Here was an opportunity to allow students to express matters that really bothered them and then to go out and do something about it!

Tell us about your partnerships

DFC Laos is partnered by PADETC, which is a non-profit Lao organisation which works predominantly in the areas of education for sustainable development, social enterprise, youth volunteers and sustainable agriculture. PADETC has a close working relationship and MoU with the Lao Ministry of Education, as well as experience working with a range of development actors including UN agencies, INGOs, local non-profit associations, civil society organisations and local communities.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]

The core team is 7 people currently and for 2012, we anticipate that we can manage the 7 schools and the challenge. Depending on funding outcomes, we plan to hire project staff if the production of books and rural expansion goes ahead. PADETC has an extensive youth volunteer network and schools network which can be tapped into for delivery of training and monitoring of future challenges.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

PADETC is always keen to connect with and learn from other individuals or organisations doing similar work and trying to achieve common goals. We would be happy to hear from and share experiences with such people for mutual benefits.