Ms. Vanessa Hegarty and Dr. Sisouk Vongvichit chaired the event to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2024, student-teachers and lecturers from the Dongkhamxang Teacher Training College discussed opportunities to boost women’s empowerment in the education sector

To celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR (MoES), with support from the Australian Government through the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) program organised a half-day workshop at the Dongkhamxang Teacher Training College (TTC). The workshop titled “Awareness raising on child protection and safeguarding and supporting women’s advancement in the education sector” was opened by Dr. Sisouk Vongvichit, Vice-Minister, MoES and Ms. Vanessa Hegarty, First Secretary, Australian Embassy. 330 guests from MoES, National University of Lao PDR, lecturers, teachers and student-teachers from Dongkhamxang TTC, Village Education Development Committees and other related partners participated in the activities organised by the Gender Trainers team of the Ministry. The workshop was led by the Division for the Advancement of Women, Mothers and Children (MDAW) under the supervision of MoES Cabinet.

Lecturers and teachers from Dongkhamxang Teacher Training College and National University of Lao PDR attended the celebration

Dr. Sisouk Vongvichit said “The theme for International Women’s Day this year is “Inspire Inclusion”. When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world. You are teachers and future teachers of Lao PDR. I hope this workshop will inspire you to be inclusive in your current and future teaching practices.”

Ms. Hegarty added “International Women’s Day gives us an opportunity to talk about what remains to be done in our efforts to achieve gender equality and call for positive change for women’s empowerment. Australia is proud to support the Ministry of Education and Sports to raise future teachers’ awareness of the importance of women’s advancement and child protection. Australia’s commitment to gender equity and inclusive education in Laos underpins our long-standing partnership with the Government of Lao PDR to achieve equal access for all children to quality primary education.”

Teachers play a critical role in ensuring inclusion of all children, no matter their gender, ethnicity, or ability. But to ensure inclusion, you also need a safe environment for students. Workshop participants were therefore first introduced to the new Child Protection and Safeguarding brochure produced by MoES with support from Australia. They reflected on how they could ensure all students, girls and boys, can access education in an inclusive and safe environment that supports them to thrive. They discussed the Do’s and Dont’s of child protection and created posters on practical actions that should be followed by all teachers.

All speeches and presentations were translated in sign Language to be accessible for all

Teachers play a critical role in ensuring inclusion of all children

After that, they participated in a panel discussion on “promoting gender equality and supporting women’s advancement”. Six panelists shared their personal stories of empowerment and inclusion. Teachers and students shared their experience from attending the inclusive education specialisation subject and how they know understand that each student learn differently and have their own specific characteristics. They raised that the most important factor is the motivation and devotion of the teachers and their will to continue learning to constantly develop their teaching skills. Moreover, teachers invited to the event also shared their experience on their inclusive education practice, and how to create a safe zone to ensure all girls can access education fairly and equally.

Ms. Vanmany Vannasy, Head of MDAW commented “Hearing those stories, we can see that by providing support and resources, women can be empowered to overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential.”

Ms. Hegarty said “Women and girls, especially those experiencing disadvantage, continue to face barriers when seeking leadership roles. Education and teachers play a vital role in fostering inclusion and empowering women.”

Dr. Sisouk Vongvichit concluded “I am looking forward to seeing how as teachers and future teachers, you will put into practice those messages of child protection, women’s empowerment and inclusion, and build a more equitable and inclusive society for generations to come.”

The workshop was organised through the BEQUAL program. BEQUAL is a program led by the Lao Government with support from the Australian Government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The revised curriculum developped with support from Australia promote more gender equity and inclusion