VIENTIANE, LAO PDR — United States Chargé d’affaires Michelle Outlaw and Vice Minister of Education and Sports Sisouk Vongvichit witnessed the signing of three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) for the extension of the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Learn to Read project in Vientiane on November 3, 2023. Learn to Read is part of the United States’ growing support for basic education in the Lao PDR.
The MoUs were signed between the Ministry of Education and Sports and Learn to Read implementing partners Save the Children International, Room to Read, and Humanity & Inclusion. The ceremony marked the official commencement of the second phase of the project, which aligns with the Government of Laos' efforts to improve reading skills for children from pre-primary to second grade.
Learn to Read will assist the Government of the Lao PDR to improve classroom instruction through teacher training and support, provide grade-appropriate teaching and learning materials, and foster community engagement that promotes a culture of reading for children. The effort will enhance the overall quality of basic education in Laos, with special attention given to children who do not speak Lao at home and children with disabilities.
Marking this important occasion, Vice Minister Vongvichit said, “I strongly believe that the Learn to Read program would assist the children in Vientiane, Xieng Khouang, Champasak, and Attapeu provinces that are in the Phase II target region. This time, the aim is to keep encouraging children with normal development and children with impairments to read in Lao and comprehend the text thoroughly.”
Highlighting the expanding partnership between the United States and Lao PDR, Charge d’affaires Outlaw said, “the United States, through USAID’s Learn to Read and other education projects, is proud to support the Ministry’s goal to improve learning outcomes for all girls and boys.” She added, “the second phase of Learn to Read offers an exciting new opportunity to help even more children improve their reading skills, particularly those who start school unable to speak Lao or who have learning disabilities.”
During its first phase, Learn to Read supported all public schools across 16 target districts in Attapeu, Champasak, Vientiane, and Xieng Khouang provinces. The project developed and distributed nearly 1.2 million inclusive and age-appropriate teaching and learning materials to over 61,000 students in 921 schools. Many of these books have been made available in a video format with sign language interpretation to expand these resources to children with hearing and seeing impairments.
Learn to Read Phrase II increases the number of supported districts from 16 to 20 in the same four provinces. In addition, Learn to Read will distribute textbooks across all of Laos’ 18 provinces, reaching an estimated of 285,000 students.
You can check out highlights from the event on our Flickr.