This paper addresses the issue of participation in education and argues that operations in the education sector can be greatly improved by increasing stakeholder participation of government officials, education professionals, local communities and the private sector including NGOs. It further argues that participation can help to increase the relevance and quality of education, improve ownership and build consensus, reach remote and disadvantaged groups, mobilise additional resources, and build institutional capacity. It however identifies that participatory operations involve risks and costs and identifies certain preconditions that are necessary for its success.
This article reports on an innovative secondary school environmental awareness initiative designed to complement a program to develop village level aquatic resource management. Students were provided with discussion questions on past, present and future issues regarding local aquatic resources resand encouraged to use semi-structured interview techniques to investigate the issues in their own villages with elders and relatives. Essays were then written by the students based on this research and the best essays presented at ceremonies where district government officials, village chiefs and members of the school parents committee attended. One of the best essays was also published in the Lao language newspaper. The process increased awareness levels regarding aquatic resource management not only amongst students but also amongst teachers, those who helped supply information and the village leaders and district government officials attending the ceremonies.