From 23-26 April, Australia’s Deputy Head of Mission, Mr Andreas Zurbrugg, and the European Union’s Head of Cooperation, Mr Bryan Fornari, together with key government counterparts from the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and Ministry of Planning and Investment jointly visited Luangnamtha and Oudomxay to monitor and promote education.
The delegation discussed education progress and challenges with Luangnamtha Vice Governor, HE Mr Bounyee Keokhounmeuang and Oudomxay Permanent Party Secretary and President of Lao Front for National Development, Mr Ovat Chanthavong. Australia and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to supporting education in the provinces through the Basic Education Quality and Access in Laos Program (BEQUAL).
“Australia is proud to be partnering with the Ministry of Education and Sports to support primary education in Luangnamtha and Oudomxay provinces.” said Mr Zurbrugg. “Investing in the most disadvantaged children, including girls and children with a disability, will help enable Lao PDR to achieve its socio- economic development goals”.
Mr. Fornari said “Quality of teachers is one of the most important factors contributing to education learning outcomes. We are glad to work in partnership with Australia and the Ministry of Education and Sports, supporting the professional development of teacher educators and training ethnic students to be deployed as teachers in rural villages”.
The visit included a trip to Luangnamtha Teacher Training College, where Australia and the EU support 102 scholarships for teachers from remote villages, including 56 women, and professional development for lecturers. Sixty-four remote teachers will graduate and be deployed in their home village in September this year.
Alongside Luangnamtha Vice Governor HE Mr Bounyee Keokhounmeuang, Director General of Provincial Education and Sports Services Mr Bounchanh Luangluexay, Director General of Department of Finance, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ms Dara Phrakonekham, Australia and the EU officially opened the new kitchen and bathrooms at the Teacher Training College.
In Luangnamtha, the delegation visited primary schools and communities receiving classroom construction, piloting the new primary curriculum and a soon-to-be teacher doing her practicum in Sing District. They also visited the Luangnamtha National Library which is piloting documentation of local stories from the Lenten and Yao ethnic communities to create an audio-visual digital library as well as printed and online educational materials to support literacy.
In Oudomxay, together with the Deputy Director of Provincial Education and Sports Services, Mr Khammany Xaydouangta and World Food Programme’s Deputy Country Director, Mr Hakan Tongul, Mr Zurbrugg announced Australia’s renewed support of AUD 1 million to the World Food Programme to support vulnerable communities in Lao PDR to manage school feeding and strengthen their resilience to climate change. The delegation also visited Namor, Beng and Houn districts to observe various activities at schools to improve teaching and learning, reading promotion and hygiene practice.
The Australian Government is partnering with the Ministry of Education and Sports and the European Union through the $64 million BEQUAL program to help more children, especially the more disadvantaged to complete a quality primary education, achieving literacy, numeracy and other life skills.