More than hydropower: A glance at Pak Ngua School

A guest blog post by China Three Gorges Corporation

Pak Ngua School is located near the Nam Lik 1-2 Hydropower Plant in Laos, which was built and operated by China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG).

For students of Pak Ngua School, this autumn semester seems a little bit different. A library with over 2,000 newly donated books is available to readers thanks to support from CTG. It is the first library in Pak Ngua village.

“I can’t believe we now have a library and so many books! It’s such a surprise,” said 59-year-old Bounkham Pameesay, the longest-serving principal of Pak Ngua School since its founding in 2006.

This is not the only change witnessed by Bounkham Pameesay. Two years ago, after gathering opinions of the local government and communities, CTG renovated Pak Ngua School, rebuilding the school gate and refurbishing classrooms.

Changes to local infrastructure came even earlier. The construction of the Nam Lik 1-2 Hydropower Plant kicked off in 2007, followed soon after by the upgrading of local infrastructure implemented by CTG.

“Before CTG built the roads, we didn’t have modern roads in the village and we transported goods mainly by water. But now we can transport our harvests by road, which is much more efficient and convenient.” said Bounkham Pameesay.

The construction of the plant has also brought major improvements to energy access for local communities. “Electricity used to be expensive and sometimes short of supply. The plant lowered the electricity price, and made power affordable and accessible to all local people. We are happy and grateful for what the plant has brought us.” he added.

Other changes are happening in a more subtle and long-lasting way. Every year, employees of CTG come to Pak Ngua School as volunteers to teach students.

Cui Jingnan came to Pak Ngua School in 2017 and taught English. There were 500 students, but only three local English teachers. Most students were not confident in speaking English at all. Cui Jingnan redesigned teaching plans and tried different methods to encourage students to speak and express themselves.

Her efforts paid off, though not instantly. More and more students began to read out loud after her as she went through the glossary, and would put up their hands when encountering any words that they could not pronounce.

Sometimes, students from other classes would drop by, standing at the window and listening to her. “I was quite worried before coming here. But after living here for some time, I can feel a close bond that connects me and my students, maybe a sense of responsibility,” she said.

Pak Ngua School gives us a glance at how hydropower can benefit and empower the local community. Some benefits may not be calculated by numbers and percentages, but they shed light on the human side of hydropower.

A hydropower plant is not just a cold and sophisticated apparatus that generates one of the most crucial necessities in our life, but it is more like a bridge that connects people and leads us to a brighter future.

You can watch a short video about local community life at the Nam Lik 1-2 hydropower plant here.

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