January 01, 2009

281206 English class #2 - part 2

continued from part 1...all (boring) details & figures in this post are dedicated to those who have asked for them...

Mr OD's class was made up of millionaires:


Lower banner (above) reads:
bpoet hap samak nakseuksaa mai, sokbpii 2008-9
laksuut sansuung 3 bpii, saakhaa[sic]:
+ bansii-kaan ngoen 1,500,000 kip/bpii (phaakbaai 1,200,000 kip/bpii)
+ phaasaa angkit 1,000,000 kip/bpii (phaakbaai 800,000 kip/bpii)
jaai khaahian korn 29-09-08, lut thanthii 100,000 kip

open receive apply student new, year 2008-9
curriculum length 3 years, fee:
+ accounting-finance 1.5 million kip/year (afternoon class 1.2 million kip/year)
+ English language 1 million kip/year (afternoon class 800,000 kip/year)
pay tuition fee before 29-09-08, discount immediate 100,000 kip

In the same range as the tuition fees for the National University of Laos (NUOL) in Vientiane, which comes up to ~1.2 million kip/year including textbook & other miscellaneous administrative costs e.g. mandatory contribution to the 2008 Eighth Lao National Games in Champasak (!!). Also roughly the same as ວິທະຍາໄລ ບໍລິຫານທຸລະກິດ ມະນີວັນ Manivanh Business Administration College (Luang Prabang) for English, but cheaper for Accounting. Manivanh also offers students who pay for a full academic year upfront a 10% discount.

Better but more expensive options are in Vientiane capital - ~USD200/year for the likes of Rattana, upwards of USD350/year for Higher Diploma programmes in IT at better ones like Soutsaka & Lao-Singapore Genetic, & close to USD700/year for Bachelors degree programmes at Lao-American (enough to send 6 students to NUOL). But they tend to have better facilities & resources than NUOL, & can afford to hire better Lao teachers & add falang faces to their staff...how well students can decipher their falang accents is another story, & the way certain students have picked up rather peculiar combinations of accents can be well...rather peculiar :P Academic rigour varies...there are graduates from private college Higher Diploma in English programmes & final year NUOL English majors who write sentences like...

I be with my work.
So what the name of this temple is situate?
You already start your working?

...& students who can write like this. (Seriously, how many native English speakers can achieve a similar level of proficiency in written Lao within the same timeframe, given the same resources?)

Banners selling the college facilities & student activities...


...& most importantly, the dream of harp bpalinyaa (receive degree):


That students actually get to enjoy all the promised bells & whistles is not a given - a thou-shall-not-be-named college that lists its library as #1 under student services (& solicits donations of materials for it) only permits teachers to access it, & students have to rely on the National Library.

The cat wonders how many of the students have worked & scrimped & borrowed from their network of relatives, neighbours & friends, saved money collected from daily alms & chanting at ceremonies (in the case of the ordained), or even received funds from sponsors or employers to get into Mr OD's class. There are those who come from wealthier backgrounds, whose families have profited from the tourism & property boom in Luang Prabang, &/or have relatives & friends based in USA, France, Australia & elsewhere in the developed world. For others, putting together one semester's worth of fees can involve quite a bit of borrowing - there is only so much a brother or cousin or former wat-mate can contribute from a USD30-45 policeman/soldier/teacher/restaurant waiter/guesthouse staff monthly salary (or even earnings as illegal labour in Thailand), & only so much rice parents can grow & sell. Some drop out for a semester or two when funds run dry. Also difficult for those who work rotating shifts to fit classes into their schedules. But the more difficult the route to getting into the class, the greater the motivation & drive :) & when that Higher Diploma in English is secured, the lucky ones will have a shot at salaries in the range of USD150/month (e.g. airport check-in counter staff in Vientiane) that can be hard to come by for the less well-connected. Lucky, because good job opportunities are still less than plentiful in Laos. It will then be their turn to feed back into the network they had once tapped & be borrowed from. Much like how things used to work in the cat's country.

Sometimes a quick way to get Lao students to speak up is to ask them why they have paid so much to sit quietly on a chair in class when they can sit quietly on a chair at home for free ;)

Many private colleges in Laos make full use of their academic staff by running consultancy businesses:


Guess it helps feed the bottomline to keep tuition fees relatively affordable, establishes connections that could help their graduates secure internships & jobs, & also helps teachers remain in touch with the industry.

end of day 12 (281206):
noodle soup/pho/feu/khaaw soi eaten to date = 09 bowls

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