VIENTIANE, LAO PDR (8 November 2016) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) signed agreements today for grant and loan assistance totaling $64.9 million to improve education quality and ensure that graduates have sufficient skills to meet labor market demands. 

The agreements were signed by Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, Vice Minister of Finance on behalf of the Government of Lao PDR, and Steven Schipani, Officer-In-Charge, ADB Lao PDR Resident Mission. Kongsy Sengmany, Vice Minister of Education and Sports, and officials from other government agencies also attended the signing ceremony.

“These projects are important elements of the Ministry of Education and Sports' wider reform program to improve the quality and relevance of higher education and vocational training,” said Mr. Schipani. “They will help to ensure that graduates have the necessary skills to participate in an increasingly demanding workforce, with a strong focus on widening access to education and training for poor and disadvantaged students.”

The projects focus on improving the country’s higher education system and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programs to produce graduates with job-ready skills. Grant and loan assistance of $39.9 million for the Second Strengthening Higher Education Project will strengthen the links between higher education services and socioeconomic needs by improving education quality, enhancing access to higher education programs, and strengthening governance and management of higher education institutions. The project will also support government efforts to meet demand for higher level skills, particularly in the growing manufacturing and service sectors as the country moves away from an agriculture-based economy.

A $25 million grant for the Second Strengthening Technical and Vocational Education and Training Project will help realign TVET programs with current labor market needs. The project will continue to strengthen TVET programs by upgrading teaching and learning environments at eight vocational colleges, and strengthening teacher competencies to deliver high-value skills training. It will also improve college management and engage private enterprises to ensure that training is tailored to local industry’s needs. Poor and disadvantaged students will be provided with stipends and dormitory spaces at colleges. 

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.

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