Some 65 newly graduating students from several faculties of the National University of Laos have been able to complete their undergraduate degrees
with assistance from the Laos-Australia National Scholarships (LANS) facility, which supported the duration of their studies.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was in Laos yesterday for the presentation of the certificates to all of the LANS graduates in Vientiane, joining Minister of Education and Sports Sengdeuane Lachanthaboun at the ceremony.
Since 2011, the LANS programme has helped more than 400 students from remote and disadvantaged areas across Laos to attend university.
The LANS programme was developed as a local complement to the Australia Awards scholarships, which provide opportunities for Lao students to pursue postgraduate degrees in Australia.
More than 1,200 people from Laos have studied in Australia under the Australia Awards programme and a further 47 Lao students commenced new scholarships in 2016.
These programmes aim to ensure Laos has the workforce it needs to develop its economy and reap the rewards of the Asean Economic Community.
The graduates are the second batch to complete degrees under the LANS scheme that started in 2011.
Every year, up to 70 students from remote and disadvantaged areas receive support to attend university.
They mostly come from poor families who otherwise would not be able to support their further studies.
The LANS programme covers all their costs for four years of undergraduate study.
Ms Bishop is visiting Vientiane to attend the 6th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the Asean-Australia Ministerial Meeting and the Asean Regional Forum.
She undertakes several bilateral engagements during her visit that underscore Australia’s already close relationship with Laos. Australia, Asean’s oldest dialogue partner, has been actively supporting greater regional integration in Southeast Asia.
Ms Bishop has announced more than 10.9 billion kip (AU$1.8 million) in additional funding for an access to finance programme in Laos so more women in villages across southern Laos can develop income-generating businesses.
Australia’s aid programme has contributed to the establishment of more than 180 village banks in southern Laos, which now have more than 33,000 members of which 60 percent are women.
The new funding will ensure village banks can be sustained after the programme ends, support financial literacy funding for an additional 4,000 women and men, and assist the Bank of the Lao PDR develop a national financial literacy strategy.
Source: Vientiane Times