VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): The Lao government is committed to improving the quality of basic education, enrolling all children and keeping them in school, and improving education financing.
This was part of the National Statement of Commitment to Accelerating Learning Recovery that Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone read at the first Lao Human Capital Summit held in Vientiane on Thursday (May 25).
The summit brought together central and provincial government leaders, education experts, development partners, and representatives of civil society and the private sector to reassess how Laos can accelerate learning and allocate adequate resources to bring its schools and learning outcomes up to the standard needed to build a strong economy.
“Human capital is a decisive factor in our socio-economic strength and sustainability,” Dr Sonexay told the meeting, noting that the economic development of some countries in the region, notably Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, is due to their success in human capital development.
“Currently, our country is facing economic and financial difficulty and therefore, funding allocated for human resource development remains limited,” he said.
Dr Sonexay said the Lao government is fully committed to ensuring quality education for all children, as defined in the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan.
“The goal is to ensure an education system that can develop human capital with knowledge, skills, health, and a love of lifelong learning, thereby creating people who can contribute significantly to the development of society,” he said.
The PM called on all state bodies to work in collaboration with the private sector, development partners and all sectors of society to improve the standard of education in Laos.
The Unicef Country Representative, Pia Britto, explained that Laos currently has a very low human capital ranking relative to its neighbours and economic potential.
“The Lao Human Capital Agenda champions investment in people as a growth strategy for the country. When a child born in the Lao PDR today grows up, she will be less than half as productive as if she enjoyed complete education and full health. This is something that must be addressed to ensure a prosperous future,” Britto said.
The World Bank Country Director for Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, Mariam Sherman, told the meeting that the Covid-19 pandemic hit education hard in Laos, with a World Bank survey showing that almost 42 per cent of children stopped attending classes during lockdowns.
“A critical challenge facing the country now,” she said, “is how to help children and students catch up with their learning at a time when the economy is struggling.”
At the meeting, the government and its partners discussed a national Human Capital Agenda that will promote investment in the formative years of every Lao citizen. By providing basic healthcare, adequate nutrition, clean water and sanitation, and access to quality education, Laos can offer all its people the chance to develop to their highest capacity.