Improving access to basic education had been a strong focus for Australia-Laos bilateral relations since 1998. Australia has proudly contributed to Laos’ achievement of the Millennium Development Goal target on school enrolment, attaining a 98.5% net enrolment rate in primary education in 2015.
Australia’s support has helped to increase the number of teachers in local schools who can speak both Lao and local languages with 605 (411 female) ethnic teachers trained. These teachers can better facilitate learning and support Lao literacy development for non-Lao speaking students.
Since 2007, Australia has partnered with the World Bank and the Lao Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) to expand and upgrade school infrastructure to ensure children from disadvantaged and remote communities, including children with disabilities, have access to classrooms and water and sanitation facilities. With our support, classrooms and latrines in over 1000 schools have been built and renovated.
Australia is also proud to support activities implemented by NGO partners with a focus on community-level support for literacy and reading promotion, hygiene, water and sanitation promotion, and grants to Village Education Development Committees linked to school development plans and inclusive education.
Today, Australia’s support focuses on improving the quality of primary education. Australia, in partnership with the European Union and USAID, has been supporting Laos through the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) Program to improve the national primary curriculum.
The new Grade 1 national primary curriculum was officially launched in June 2019, focusing on active learning and aiming to improve early education outcomes. We have since rolled out a new Grade 2 and a new Grade 3 curriculum.
Australia, as co-chair of the Education Sector Working Group (ESWG) since 2004, has also played a leadership role in policy dialogue with the Government of Laos on challenging reform issues including education financing, equity and quality. This places Australia in a unique position to leverage its experience and support for necessary education reforms as a trusted partner in the sector.
We have seen improved access to and quality of primary education since we began working with Laos in this sector. We look forward to continuing to support the Government of Laos in achieving their goals of improved learning outcomes for all children.