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 6,5 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 has become MEC with approximately 400 students in - at his stage! - 5 classrooms daily, 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; seven Lao teachers: Ms. Tou, Ms. Neng, Mr. Max, Mr. Kor, Mr. Somphanh, Mr. Khamxay, and Mr. Say Lee; two receptionists and a cleaning lady; we have moved from a building with two classrooms in Ban Mano to a site in Ban Phongkham, which gave us the option to open four classrooms.With a popular concept and an increase in students wanting to study English at MEC, 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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