Laos Discusses Learning Solutions at UN Summit in New York

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Minister of Education and Sports of Laos, Mr. Phout Simmalavong and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Saleumxay Kommasith at the UN summit.

A delegation from the Ministry of Education and Sports, accompanied by UNICEF Laos, has concluded its mission to New York for the global Transforming Education Summit.

The three-day summit, convened by the UN Secretary General as part of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, was organized between 17-19 September and gathered education leaders from around the world with the aim of mobilizing solutions to the global learning crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discussions centered around five key themes, including schools, curricula, and lifelong learning, teachers, digital transformation, and education finance.

In the lead-up to the Leader’s Day of the summit on 19 September, the Lao ministerial delegation also took part at the Solutions Day event on 17 September.

Laos was one of the co-hosts the event “Transforming Education Starts Early: Laying the foundation in Early Years”, alongside the Governments of Uzbekistan and Gabon, supported by UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank, LEGO Foundation, Hilton Foundation, Teacher College, Columbia University and ECDAN.

“Protecting and maximizing investments in early childhood education takes on greater urgency than ever before in light of COVID-19’s impact on young children’s development, especially the most vulnerable,” said Mr. Phout Simmalavong, Minister of Education and Sports of Laos, in his opening remarks at the Solutions Day event.

“The Government of Laos attaches great importance to upholding the right to education for all and reaffirms its commitment to supporting the learning recovery,” he added.

During the summit, Laos also presented National Commitment to Transforming Education, which was developed through a consultative process engaging a range of stakeholders, from government ministries and development partners to teachers and students. Countries will be expected to follow-up on the implementation of their National Commitments to Transform Education following the summit.

“Only one-in-three 10-year old children globally can read a simple sentence or understand a simple story. Now, the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed education systems around the world further into a learning crisis and disrupting the education of more than 90 per cent of the world’s children. This has pushed education systems around the world further into a learning crisis,” explained Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative to Laos.

“However, the pandemic also presents us with the opportunity to fundamentally transform how education is delivered and to strengthen the quality of education for all,” said Dr. Britto.

In a parallel session, the ministerial delegate also spoke on a panel on achieving holistic and equitable digital transformation, citing the significant success of Laos’s digital teaching-learning Platform “Khang Panya Lao”.

In addition, Laos also held bilateral meetings with other governments, private sector and academia in efforts to exchange learnings on improving quality of education in Laos.