Vientiane, September 3, 2021 – The World Bank and the Government of Lao PDR yesterday announced the launch of a $47 million project aimed at improving pre-school and primary education performance and enhancing educational systems nationwide.
The Global Partnership for Education III: Learning and Equity Acceleration Project seeks to strengthen learning along three tracks. Firstly, pre-school classes will allow children to enter school ready to learn thanks to community child development groups, a reading readiness program, and screening to help provide extra resources to children with disabilities, Secondly, targeted teacher training will prepare and motivate instructors, and thirdly, school-based management systems will improve the environment for teaching and learning.
The initiative represents a major investment in human capital for Laos, said Dr. Phout Simmalavong Minister of Education and Sport. “This project will help get our new Education and Sport Sector Development Plan for 2021-25 off to a running start,” he said. “Effective and measurable improvements in pupil and teacher performance are a priority and this effort will help us achieve those goals.”
While some of the project’s activities will be nationwide, others will be focused on specific districts. The initiative incorporates features designed to make up for learning time lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know that people’s whole lives depend upon what they learn before their fifth birthday,” said World Bank Lao PDR Country Manager Alex Kremer, “so this project will give a preschool education to children aged three to five in over 1,300 Lao villages.”
The Lao population is young, with one in two people below the age of 24. While national school enrollment rates are high, learning levels are currently low, so a strong focus on improving results in early grades is seen as an important component of the project and a long-term investment in the country’s future. The Ministry of Education and Sport will implement the initiative, which complements other partnerships between Laos and the World Bank on early learning.
The World Bank’s International Development Association will provide $30 million in funding for the project and financing worth almost $17 million will come in the form of a grant from the Global Partnership for Education.