USAID and UNICEF join forces to quell the impact of COVID-19 on education in Lao PDR through inclusive and effective learning

The newly announced USAID-UNICEF partnership will contribute towards recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 on education in Lao PDR by empowering children with inclusive education, foundational learning and skills for life.

12 May 2022
Project launch
UNICEF Laos/2022/IKarakaya

Vientiane, 13 May 2022 - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UNICEF officially launched a new partnership today to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector by addressing access to and quality of early childhood and primary education.

The launch event was held at Nahaidio Primary school, Vientiane Capital and was chaired by the Vice Minister of Education and Sports, H.E. Dr. Sisouk Vongvichit, who was joined by USAID Deputy Administrator, Dr. Isobel Coleman, and UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR, Dr. Pia Rebello Britto. Under the partnership, the USAID funding of USD 2.6 million to the UNICEF Education Programme will ensure young children, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in Lao PDR, are prepared for school, stay in school, and have improved literacy and numeracy skills.

“Education in Lao PDR has been greatly affected by the pandemic. Ensuring that children have access to quality early learning opportunities and are prepared for primary education is more important than ever. The new partnership between USAID and UNICEF will contribute to our efforts to ensure all children are continuing to learn and will significantly mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on education,” remarked H.E. Dr. Sisouk Vongvichit.

Lao PDR has been making steady progress in expanding access to schooling. However, according to Southeast Asia assessment, even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, most children were still leaving primary education without mastering basic literacy and numeracy skills, which are indispensable for lifelong learning. This partnership will support USAID’s and UNICEF’s priorities which aim to contribute to achieving the Lao PDR Government’s targets under the Education and Sports Sector Development Plan 2021-25 and the broader Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education.

The partnership will also provide teachers and education personnel with knowledge and skills to respond to learning needs so that all children can continue learning both via in-person and remote learning.

Dr. Coleman thanked the Ministry of Education and Sports and UNICEF for the strong collaboration with USAID to improve basic education in Laos. “Our new partnership reaffirms the United States’ commitment to the Lao people; to their growth and aspirations; and to supporting the Lao Government in achieving their development goals,” stated Dr Coleman. “This initiative will support the efforts of building an inclusive society and contribute to human resource development in Lao PDR.”

The USAID-UNICEF Partnership will expand access to quality early childhood education and smooth transition to and completion of primary schooling for children in remote areas. Parents will also be engaged so they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to support their children’s development.

“Learning takes place throughout life. However, the learning that takes place in early childhood establishes the foundation of a child’s future. Ensuring access to quality early childhood education and smooth transition to primary schooling is an investment in our children’s future and will help them grow to their fullest potential,” said Dr. Pia Rebello Britto. “USAID’s contribution to the UNICEF Education Programme marks a new era for our strengthened partnership to support the Education system of Lao PDR also in line with USAID’s priorities in education.”

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