A new chapter for Singapore Mission School in Laos

A new chapter for Singapore Mission School in Laos
Pioneer students and teachers in 2014

The vision

The vision to establish the Singapore Mission School in Laos (SMS) was planted in the hearts of a group of Christian Singaporeans living and working in Laos in the early 2000s. In 2010, the vision took shape in the form of daily English enrichment classes for children between the ages of four and six years. Full day school in English and Lao started later that year.

In 2011, SMS was officially registered as a company with the intrepid husband-and-wife team of Kok Liang and Lesley Yeow as directors. The plan was to establish the first Singapore-flagged school in Laos to provide quality education in the tradition of the mission schools in Singapore. This was supported by much prayer and material resources from the then steering committee and many well-wishers from Singapore.

The builders

In 2013, the school directors and the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) formed a strategic partnership to develop SMS to operate as a fully-licensed entity registered with the Lao education ministry. MMS and the Yeows signed a memorandum of understanding to provide support and funding for a purpose-built extension to the rented premises and for MMS to eventually own and manage the school.

02 2017 NewBuilding
Bishop Dr Chong addressing students during the dedication of the new school building in February 2017

By February 2017, the new extension was completed. Then Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung dedicated the building and the SMS team in Vientiane. Concurrently, a school management board was set up with professionals from Singapore and Laos to provide strategic oversight for managing and operating the school.

SMS’ unique curriculum was a draw as it had successfully blended critical elements of the Lao-language primary school curriculum with world-leading aspects of Singapore’s English-based national curriculum.

The present

SMS currently has 105 students in its Kindergarten 1 to 3 and Primary 1 to 5 classes. Its school day begins at 8.30 a.m. and ends at 4.00 p.m. The school year runs from September to May while summer school—focusing on life skills enrichment through engaging and fun learning activities—is conducted over six to seven weeks from July.

03 2022 TeachingPandemic
Teachers had to adapt and use new ways to teach during the pandemic

The unique Lao-Singapore kindergarten and primary curriculum ensures students graduate from Primary 5 as confident, capable and bilingually-conversant individuals, ready for secondary education.

MMS, the Yeows and the SMS Board continue to work as a team, united in the task of ensuring the continued development of the students, staff and facilities. The Yeows play an integral role as Principal and board members.

In addition to operational funding, the MMS provides support for student sponsorship to ensure that every Lao child who wants to be part of the SMS experience will not be denied entry.

In February this year, almost six years to the day the SMS extension was dedicated by Bishop Dr Chong, MMS Executive Director Rev Derrick Lau and MMS Regional Director Col (Ret) Quek Koh Eng joined the SMS Board and staff to mark the handover of the school to MMS. It was a meaningful occasion that also served to recognise the many hands and hearts who have come alongside SMS over the years.

The future

SMS is now part of the network of Methodist mission schools in Singapore and the region. We are united in our vision to provide quality Christian education to nurture and develop Laos’ future leaders. Coming from diverse backgrounds, our students and families are our mission field.

Moving forward we need churches and individuals to:

  • Pray | Our students, their families and our staff members need prayer.
  • Serve | If you are an experienced school leader or teacher, use your God-given talents and experience to help us in teaching, management, curriculum development or programme evaluation.
  • Volunteer | Join the individuals and groups who give weeks or months to serve professionally with our teaching and administration teams.
  • Partner | Methodist churches with a heart for missions can partner us by sending workers and project teams and providing support.

Glory to God, for indeed the best is yet to come!

08 2023 TEAM SMS
SMS staff and students today

A version of this article was published in Harvest Force 2023 Issue 2.

Singapore Mission School, Laos is looking for a new Principal. For more details, visit https://www.mms.org.sg/sms-laos-principal:

Dr Eileen Aw and Jason Chin are members of the board of Singapore Mission School. They worship at Wesley Methodist Church and Christ Methodist Church respectively. / Photos courtesy of Singapore Mission School