Ministry, UNFPA to increase investment in adolescent girls' education
The Ministry of Education and Sports and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have agreed to strengthen their partnership by continuing to build on their campaign titled “Noi”.
The Ministry signed off on the Implementing Partner (IP) Agreement and 2017 Annual Work Plan with the UNFPA yesterday, inked by the Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Sengdeuane Lachanthaboun and UNFPA representative, Ms Frederika Meijer.
The “Noi” campaign was launched last year on International Day of the Girl Child (October 11) and acknowledges the grim reality of adolescent girls informed by the country's 2015 Population and Housing Census, which shows that 42,000 adolescent girls have never attended school and 91,662 girls aged 6-16 have dropped out of school.
Girls out of school tend to marry younger and have children at a younger age with Laos having the earliest age of marriage in the region; 1 in 10 girls marry by the age of 15 while early marriage is often related to early pregnancy.
Laos has the highest adolescent birth rate in the region, with an estimated 76 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19.
The newly signed agreement between the Ministry of Education and Sports and UNFPA will particularly be focused on issues that keep girls in school and strengthen girls' social, health and economic assets.
As such it will support Laos to build the human resources needed to graduate from Least Developed Country status as well as working towards some of the achievements of the Sustainable Development indicators by 2030.
Ms Sengdeuane said that, in particular, girls in rural areas face more challenging situations to access information and education.
“They need special attention to be able to stay in school, to be empowered so that all girls can develop and strive towards reaching their full potential,” she said.
This reaffirms the government's commitment to investing in “Noi”, as well as the alignment of the UNFPA supported activities with the ministry's sector plans and priorities.
UNFPA's sixth Country Programme (CP6) 2017-2021 has partnerships with a number of different ministries and focuses on youth and adolescent issues through supporting data analyses as well as strengthening and increasing access to reproductive health information and services.
Ms Meijer said “Currently, adolescents and young people are often left out of the dialogue about them and their voices are often not heard.”
To change this there is a need for an enabling policy environment where adolescents and young people are given specific attention and where national development takes their particular needs into account, she added.
She pointed out that investing in girls' education is crucial for the advancement of women and gender equality and provides for the best returns on investments.
Under the CP6, UNFPA aims for a strengthened partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports, where the ministry takes a leading role in advocating for increased and sustainable investment in adolescent girls.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 29, 2017)