Lao PDR Announces Human Capital Summit to Launch Better Education and Health Outcomes

The Government of the Lao PDR has begun preparations for a national summit and series of consultations that will identify strategies and financing plans to improve human capital outcomes ― the knowledge, skills and health needed for boosting productivity across the country. The Ministry of Planning and Investment today announced that the Lao PDR Human Capital Summit will be held in October this year, with support from the World Bank and UNICEF.

Chairing a meeting to kick off planning for the summit, under the World Bank’s global Human Capital Project, Mme. Phonevanh Outhavong, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment, reiterated the priorities of the human development agenda in the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan 2021-2025, stressing that “as environmental, health and financial crises threaten to increase poverty and suffering, never has the need to invest in people been so critical. The situation calls for a great reset in the way we think about human capital development, and how we ensure that everybody has an equal opportunity to participate, and that no one is left behind.”

Alexander Kremer, World Bank Group Country Manager in Laos said the summit will tackle key issues in health, education and social protection. “This is the right time to discuss how to protect the government’s commitment to education, health and social protection from economic pressures on public spending. This is also the right time to discuss how the school calendar can be adjusted to make up for the learning that children lost during COVID-19.”

Even before the pandemic, a child born in Laos could expect to be only 46% as productive as she would be if she enjoyed complete education and full health. One of the most damaging effects of COVID-19 has been the disruption to education and losses of learning, which to varying extents has derailed learning for a generation of Lao children.

However, the learning loss caused by school closures over the past two years can be mitigated if urgent action, focused attention, and financial stimulus are provided. The Human Capital Summit will bring together senior officials from key ministries, provincial administrations, development partners, civil society, the private sector, and academia, to build a learning recovery program for Lao students.

Ahead of the summit, meetings are being held to identify how Laos can better measure learning, consolidate curricula, increase instruction efficiency (including through digital technology), extend instruction time, and reinforce the role of parents, families, and communities in children’s learning. Closer cooperation at all levels is needed, along with efforts to ensure sufficient support in budget mobilization and allocation, in order to build a more resilient education system.

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