The European Union (EU) has committed to continue to support the country’s education sector from 2016- 2020 as Laos looks to improve the sector’s overall quality.
“The EU is one of Laos’ biggest development partners in terms of grant aid for development cooperation and humanitarian resource assistance, and is also an important trade partner,” Deputy Minister of Education and Sports, Assoc. Prof. Dr Kongsy Sengmany says. For several years, the EU has played a significant role in supporting the development of the education sector which, by consensus, has met with success.
Under those education projects supported by the EU, education has been made more accessible seeing gradual improvements while the education gap between urban and rural areas has also seen a reduction, officials confirmed.
Assoc. Prof. Dr Kongsy told Vientiane Times last week at the handover of a certificate of achievement to EU representatives, that he wanted to thank the EU’s assistance and the commended the growing ties between Laos and the EU including those in the education sector.
He said that Mr Michel Coffin, the out-going EU Chargé d’ Affaires to Laos, was one of the key figures who has been mobilizing resources from the EU as well as from various development partners contributing to the development of the education sector of the Lao PDR. Since 2014 the EU has committed 1 million euro in providing technical support to the areas of planning and budgeting in the
development of the Education Sector Development Plan with the Ministry of Education and Sports.
“Under the scheme, 3 experts were recruited for the three year course of project life,” Assoc. Prof. Dr Kongsy said. The EU also committed 11.5 million euro to co-finance the Basic Education and Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) project and has provided approximately 3.5 million euro to improve education quality including improving the planning and budgeting areas at the district, provincial and central levels while also supporting the training of School Based Management to school principals.
According to the EU, their 207 million euro 2014-2020 programme focuses on the sectors of nutrition, education and governance while also tackling horizontal issues such as UXO decontamination, gender equality and climate change.
Starting from 2016, European partners (the EU, EU Member States and Switzerland) are combining their development cooperation through joint programming.
The EU and its Member States have set out a common vision, priorities, approach, division of labour and indicative financial allocations.
Taken together, the EU and EU Member States are among the largest development donors in Laos, committing around 70 million euro annually. Regarding economic relations, the ‘Everything but Arms’ initiative extends import quotas and duty-free access for Lao exports to the EU market which has opened the door to the biggest single market in the world.
EU Member States also maintain their bilateral economic relations with Laos and, combined, are the fourth largest investors in the country.
Source: Vientiane Times