50 Years of Cooperation: Handover of Teacher Appreciation Plaques and Art Event Celebrating Education in Lao PDR

21 October 2023
Handover of Teacher Appreciation Plaques and Art Event Celebrating Education at Parkson Shopping Mall in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

Vientiane, 21 October 2023 - Marking a significant milestone in the enduring partnership between the Government of Lao PDR and UNICEF, an appreciation event to highlight the role of teachers in Lao PDR took place at Parkson Laos Shopping Mall today.

The gathering witnessed the presentation of appreciation plaques to teachers by H.E. Dr. Phout Simmalavong, Minister of Education and Sports, and Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR. They were also joined by representatives from key partners including the European Union, USAID, JICA and KOICA among others.

The event took place against the backdrop of a vibrant mural adorned with the drawings created from the contributions of school children from across Lao PDR, which is on display as part of the Lao Art Week event by the XYZ Arts Centre, organised with support from the European Union and UNICEF. This art exhibit is also a testament to Lao PDR’s collective commitment towards education and the vital role played by teachers in nurturing future generations.

(Left to right) The Japanese Ambassador, Minister of Education and Sports, EU Ambassador and UNICEF Representative pose with children in front of the artwork entitled "A United Story from Every Child".
(Left to right) The Japanese Ambassador, Minister of Education and Sports, European Union Ambassador and UNICEF Representative posing with children in front of the artwork montage entitled “A United Story from Every Child” created from the drawings of children from across Lao PDR.

"The road towards sustainable development begins in the classroom. Thus, today's event represents a heartfelt gesture of appreciation to all our teachers who continue to mold minds of our children and the nation’s future," remarked H.E. Dr. Phout Simmalavong, Minister of Education and Sports.  “The Government of Lao PDR and our partners remains steadfast in our commitment to enhancing the role of teachers and ensuring quality education for all.”

Over the past five decades, the Government of Lao PDR and UNICEF and partners have worked hand-in-hand to create an inclusive education system that reaches every child. These efforts encompassed constructing schools, enhancing curricula and fostering equitable access to quality education. Recent research, conducted in partnership with the European Union, has shown that teacher quality is a strong predictor of student performance. Schools that excel prioritize learning for all students, with a particular focus on those facing challenges. 

As a result of this collaboration, Lao PDR has made notable advancements in improving education: net enrollment rate has risen from 40 per cent in 1973 to over 95 per cent today; The country now has over 33,000 teachers in primary education, representing a significant increase in the total teacher workforce compared to 1973 when there existed only 8000 teachers in primary education, 80 per cent of whom were unqualified.

Nevertheless, despite this significant progress certain challenges in education persist, including the need to allocate more resources to support teachers.

"As we celebrate 50 years of the fruitful partnership between UNICEF and the Government of Lao PDR, the urgent need to invest in quality education becomes clearer than ever,” stated Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to UNICEF Lao PDR. “To invest in our teachers today is ultimately to invest in the future of Lao PDR.”

In partnership with UNICEF, the European Union is currently implementing a budget support programme, further underscoring the importance of augmenting state budget allocation to enhance teacher training, capacity building and the delivery of quality education.

"We are honored to support this initiative that recognizes the pivotal role of teachers,” said Ms. Ina Marčiulionytė, Ambassador of the European Union to Lao PDR. “Quality education is the cornerstone of a thriving society and the European Union reaffirms its commitment to further enhancing education for all in Lao PDR."

“Art is one of the most powerful mediums of self-expression,” remarked Arlin Manithip, Chief Executive Officer at The XYZ Art Centre. “We are honoured to host Lao Art Week this year and support the Ministry of Education and Sports, UNICEF, and the EU in creating an artistic space for children to express their creativity and gratitude to teachers.”

To pave the way for a future-ready Lao PDR, a comprehensive approach is required, encompassing financial investment, policy adjustments, and a cultural shift recognizing the paramount importance of teachers.

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