The Government of Lao PDR and partners commit to work together in expanding access to digital learning
Vientiane, 15 November 2022 – The Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and the Ministry of Technology and Communications (MTC) held a meeting on Tuesday 15th November to review Lao PDR’s progress towards digital transformation in education and plans to scale up the use of digital technology to improve learning via the ICT in Education Strategy and the expansion of the MoES digital teaching-learning platform Khang Panya Lao.
The meeting gathered internet service providers and private sector partners, including UNITEL, LaoTelecom, ETL, LaoSat and the Private Schools Association, as well as representatives from MoES, MTC and education development partners. The meeting was co-organized with the support of UNICEF and the European Union.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has showed us the strong potential of digital learning for our children’s education and the urgent need to expand its access, including through Khang Panya Lao. Today’s meeting affords us a great opportunity to review our vision for how to achieve this,” stated H.E. Dr. Sourioudong Sundara, Vice Minister of Education and Sports.
“Fundamental to 21st Century learning is that technology and education go together and is a top priority for the Government. Together, we [MoES and MTC] can be leading the way and providing an example to other sectors. This also means working hand-in-hand with development partners and the private sector,” said H.E. Mr. Santisouk Simmalavong, Vice Minister of Technology and Communications.
The Ministry of Education and Sport’s Khang Panya Lao platform has expanded rapidly with over 109,000 registered users and an estimated 300,000 active users across all 18 provinces of Lao PDR. Reaching rural areas, however, remains a challenge given infrastructure constraints, including affordability of internet costs and devices.
The meeting provided an opportunity for the two Ministries to come together along with the private sector as a first step to accelerate digital transformation in education in line with the Government’s broader plans for a “digital society, digital economy and digital government.”
During the meeting, a panel discussion was also organised to explore opportunities in engaging the private sector and other partners to realise the country’s vision for digital learning, particularly the role internet service providers can play in expanding access to Khang Panya Lao in primary schools in Lao PDR.
As part of this panel discussion, Mr Khammay Khammavongsa, Deputy Director of Business Solution Center, UNITEL, expressed shared recognition of the barriers to digital learning and UNITEL’s willingness to work together with the Government of Lao PDR and partners, including UNICEF, to support improved access to the internet in schools.
The Ministry of Education and Sports, with the support of UNICEF and the EU, is trialing the provision of tablets paired with pre-paid SIM cards to assess and monitor internet data requirements of target primary schools.
“Digital tools like Khang Panya Lao can be used to strengthen foundational learning, particularly literacy and numeracy and develop 21st century skills, including increased awareness on climate action for students, teachers and parents alike.
“We at UNICEF remain committed to supporting the Lao Government in scaling up digital learning. We must work together to make such wonderful advances in learning available to all,” remarked Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.