International experts meet to enhance children’s education in Asia
More than 70 education experts from across the Asia Pacific met the week of 26 -30 May 2014, in Vientiane, to ensure the learning needs of children and young people in this region are met. The meeting is organised by the international child rights organisation, Save the Children and was opened by Mr Lytou Bouapao, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Education and Sports.
“Laos PDR, with its ethnically diverse population, adds an additional set of challenges around literacy with many children not speaking Lao at home. Poor language skills affect learning outcomes across the board, and as a result, many students leave the education system early, without basic literacy and numeracy skills, affecting their future.”
Mr Lytou welcomed participants to the conference, stating “The longstanding relationship between the Ministry of Education and Sports and Save the Children has supported basic education for over 20 years, with contribution to policy dialogue and implementation having been critical to improve access and quality for education, especially for rural communities”
‘Education is a right,’ explained Olivier Franchi, CountryDirector of Save the Children Laos. ‘This meeting ensures that we all work towards our shared education goal, that all children can read by the time they leave primary school, and all children caught up in humanitarian crises have access to a quality education.’ Working together with Ministry of Education and Sports and local communities, Save the Children has been able to make a difference to the lives of more 40,000 children in Laos PDR last year through its education programme.
Save the Children has been implementing education programmes across the region of Asia for decades. The organisation focuses on ensuring children have access to education in emergencies and on helping children to learn to read, and then ‘read to learn’. One example of a successful programme is called Literacy Boost, which reaches 144,509 children in Pakistan alone. In Asia, it is also implemented in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and will soon be implemented in Afghanistan.
Programme Director at Save the Children in Laos, Vilasack Viraphanh, underlined the importance of the meeting, as ‘having the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from others is the key to ensuring that we are all working to the best of our collective ability for children.’