I started the MEKONG ENGLISH CENTRE (MEC) as the MANO ENGLISH LANGUAGE CENTRE (MANO) in October 2004 when I found out that I could teach English language in a way that Lao students can relate to really well - and I could help them to improve their English language skills a lot. I also wanted to ensure that as many students as possible could afford to study at MEC. Therefore MEC charges only 150,000 Kip (approximately $US 18) for 20 classes per month or 390,000 Kip ($US 46,80) for a term of three months.
Laos is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has been proven that to drag a country out of its poverty, people must be educated - this includes both boys and girls. The Lao and the Japanese governments have put in place many scholarships in the North of Laos. The Lao education system is improving slowly but surely. The South Korean government has built and equipped a University in Luang Prabang. The classes taught now require students to access information on the Internet for their studies. To do this they must have a good command of English.
With the burgeoning tourist industry in Laos there is a growing need for people who speak good English and communicate well in this language. Though the Lao education system is improving with its Lao and English studies, it is not fast enough to meet the demand. There is also a growing demand for English language skills by the Non Government Aid organizations.
Hence my thinking about setting up a private English language school accessible and available for everyone - the MEKONG ENGLISH CENTRE. It has been working very successfully during the last 12 years. It has enabled so many people to develop and move out to interact with tourists, aid workers and the modern global infrastructure that Laos has to deal with now.
Many things have changed since the modest beginnings in 2004: the one-man operation MANO became MEC with approximately 400 to 500 students in 5 classrooms daily until March 2016, when we moved to a bigger building where, from day one, we are accommodating almost twice that number. Operating from 07:30 in the morning until 20:30 in the evening the MEC family comprises a Lao director: Mr Inlaeng Vongsouvanh; two foreign staff: Mr Claus and Mr Marcel; a teachers' guide and confidant: Mr Max; eleven Lao teachers: Ms Neng, Ms Somphone, Mr Somphan, Mr Khamxay, Mr Say Lee, Mr Poryea, Mr Somjai, Mr Joy, Mr Thong, Mr Somneuk and Mr Apple; two receptionists, Mr Sichai and Ms Bouanaem; a cleaning lady, Ms Bounthan and a park attendant, Mr Siang. From a modest building with two classrooms in Ban Mano to a site in Ban Phongkham, with 5 classrooms, we now occupy a building that allows for 11 classrooms. With a popular concept and a continuing increase in students wanting to study English at MEC, even at this point we are expecting to expand to provide more educational possibilities to young and eager Lao students.
Claus Haumer - Founder of the centre.
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