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Govt reviews EU support for education and nutrition

The EU Education and Nutrition Budget Support Programmes in Laos plan to continue to raise teaching standards and teacher management, while more needs to be done to address the inequality between rural and urban area in terms of access to education and social services.
Officials from the Lao government and the European Union highlighted these points when they met in Vientiane on Monday to review the EU Education and Nutrition Budget Support Programmes.
The European Union Delegation to Laos, together with the Ministry of Education and Sports and Ministry of Health, hosted the third Inter-Ministerial Budget Support Steering Committee.
The purpose of the meeting was to review the implementation of the EU Budget Support Programmes in Education and Nutrition Sectors and to assess the policies, reforms and progress made during the past year.
Special attention was paid to the fulfilment of conditions related to the disbursement of the tranches of the two programmes.
Members of the Budget Support Steering Committee meet twice a year to review progress and reorient the targets of the programme based on the priorities of the Lao government for the benefit of the Lao population.
Minister of Education and Sports, Mrs Sengdeuane Lachanthaboun stressed that investment in human capital is a pressing issue for Laos. “Despite budget constraints, the government continues to consider education and nutrition as priorities,” she said. Progress has been made in advancing equitable access to quality education, reducing education gaps between rural and urban areas, and facilitating good learning outcomes for girls and boys. However, there is still a need to improve the quality of teaching and teacher management.
In the area of nutrition, despite progress in recent years, including a reduction in the prevalence of stunting among children under five from 44 to 33 percent, more needs to be done to address the inequalities between rural and urban areas. With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the need to protect the most vulnerable is more relevant and urgent than ever. For both education and nutrition, more and better budget allocations and support are needed.
Minister of Health, Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong said multi-sectoral coordination had increasingly improved the sense of ownership by the government, as well as sustainability of the reform of priority sectors through a convergence approach, which had resulted in the decreased rate of stunting for example.
However, one third of Lao children are still stunted, particularly amongst ethnic groups in remote and isolated areas. “I urge all the sectors concerned to strengthen cooperation in order to achieve our targets in reducing malnutrition, as a reduction in stunting may contribute to meeting the target of graduation from Least Developed Country status by 2024,” Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong said.
Also speaking at the meeting, the EU Ambassador said “The European Union is proud to see the results of its support to the Lao government to improve the education sector and help to enhance efforts towards implementing the Education and Sports Sector Development Plan.”
He also underlined efforts by the government to eradicate malnutrition. The EU is hoping to increase the budget allocated for this year’s disbursement from 249 billion kip (EUR 24.9 million) to 429 billion kip (EUR 42.9 million).
The multi-year transfers are conditional on policy dialogue, performance assessment, and capacity building. The Ministerial Budget Support Steering Committee looks into the progress made in each of those criteria. When detailed information is fully and formally transmitted, the EU assessment process will begin. The two Budget Support programmes to Laos are worth a total of 1,120 billion kip (EUR 112 million).

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update June 30, 2020)

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