MANILA, PHILIPPINES i The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a grant of $24.8 million to strengthen the higher education system in Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).
The grant, sourced from the ADB's Special Fund resources, has been approved by ADB's Board of Directors.
"The Strengthening Higher Education Project is designed to meet the growing demand in Lao PDR for a skilled workforce," said Yasushi Hirosato, Senior Education Specialist with ADB's Southeast Asia Department. "As the country continues to develop, it will need an ever expanding pool of high quality graduates in key disciplines responding to labor market demands. Strengthening the higher education system will promote economic growth in Lao PDR."
The Project will mainly focus on improving standards at the three public universities in the country: National University of Laos, Champasak University, and Souphanouvong University.
It will seek to improve access to higher education for disadvantaged groups, particularly for women and ethnic minorities, as well as improve teaching and research standards. Courses, curriculum, and teaching materials will also be updated to meet workforce requirements.
The Project will also seek to enhance the quality of governance and financial management in the universities by strengthening management capacity at the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the three public universities.
After years of stagnation, Lao PDR's economy has been growing strongly in recent years, with economic growth averaging 7.3% from 2003 to 2008. The Government has identified education as one of the key pillars for its plan to sustain economic expansion, reduce poverty, and lift the country out of Least Developed Country status by 2020.
The Government will contribute $2 million towards the Project's total cost of $28.8 million, while partner foreign universities will extend an equivalent amount to support staff and faculty development program under the Project. The Ministry of Education is the executing agency for the Project.