Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong has advised educators to produce a skilled and qualified workforce, to meet the country’s growing development needs.

The premier was speaking at the one-day annual meeting of the Ministry of Education and Sports, which took place yesterday in southern Saravan province.

He advised education officials to work harder to develop quality human resources to fulfill the needs of national socio-economic development and the international integration effort. “In general, the quality of education is still poor,” the premier told the participants. “The personnel we have trained are not of the quality that is needed.”

In addition, he said young people have not been trained in line with the demands of the economy. Most students are interested only in higher-level education and subjects associated with business rather than taking vocational courses, when the demand for manual labour is high.

The premier called for the meeting to hold a collective discussion to come up with ways to address the current labour issues.

Mr Thongsing suggested there should be adequate investment in developing the education sector, to ensure its steady growth in terms of both quality and quantity.

The officials were asked to continue to encourage private investment in education, to stimulate the government’s drive to develop its workforce and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Another emergency issue the ministry should give thorough attention to is to achieve the MDGs in relation to education by 2015,” he told the meeting, suggesting that officials apply every means available to reach the stated goals.

The premier acknowlegded the challenges Laos faces in achieving the MDGs on education. He said that in many rural areas, schools are run-down, under resourced or non-existent. A number of remote villages still do not have schools at all, while those that do exist are substandard.

Mr Thongsing stressed the critical need to turn out a skilled workforce, saying it is an ‘indicator’ which determines a country’s level of socio-economic development.

“If we don’t pay attention to developing education, we will be unable to graduate from poverty and least developed country status.”

The ministry was also advised to fully realise the government’s policy to provide more incentives for teachers.

Regarding sports, Mr Thongsing advised meeting attendees to put a sports development strategy into place, to create professional athletes.

The meeting was chaired by Minister of Education and Sports Dr Phankham Viphavanh, and attended by representatives from the education and sports sector across the country.

Source: Vientiane Times
July 10, 2012