Switzerland Supports Agriculture and Forestry Education Reform in Lao PDR


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Press release, 06.03.2017

Switzerland provides CHF 5.1 million to third phase of the project for the Support to the Reform of the Agriculture and Forestry Colleges in Lao PDR (SURAFCO). A respective agreement was signed by H.E. Dr. Phouang Parisak Pravongviengkham, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and Mr. Tim Enderlin, Director of Cooperation for the Mekong Region of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The renewed funding contributes to the development of skilled human resources needed to promote the modernisation of the agricultural and forestry sector in Lao PDR.

H.E. Dr. Phouang Parisak Pravongviengkham, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and Mr. Tim Enderlin, Director of Cooperation for the Mekong Region of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) at the SURAFCO signing ceremony.
H.E. Dr. Phouang Parisak Pravongviengkham, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and Mr. Tim Enderlin, Director of Cooperation for the Mekong Region of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) at the SURAFCO signing ceremony. ©Toula/Lao PDR

The overall goal of SURAFCO is to strengthen the quality and practical teaching in all five Agriculture and Forestry Colleges of Lao PDR. The colleges will focus on improving skills based education, management of the colleges, campus infrastructure, updating the teaching equipment, facilitating the knowledge sharing and exchange events. Technical support to implement the project is provided by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation.

The contribution to the Reform Strategy of the Government of Laos will increase the number of qualified agricultural and extension workers in the public sector, employees in the private sector, self-employed farmers and entrepreneurs who can accompany the transition from a subsistence-based to a market-based agriculture.

H.E. Dr. Phouang Parisak said, “This project has allowed the country to move towards a commercial based agriculture system and provides the quality of human resources needed by the public and private agricultural sectors”.

The SURAFCO project has transformed the Northern Agriculture and Forestry College in Luang Prabang into a centre of excellence for relevant upland agriculture education. The five Agriculture and Forestry Colleges nationwide have benefited from the experience and are now using the same skill-based and student-centered curriculum. The nationally revised curriculum consists of 60% practical teaching and 40% theory, for a higher diploma.

80% of graduates from the first two project phases have either found employment or are self-employed within 1-2 years after their graduation. Feedback from employers from public and private sectors indicate that the education is seen as relevant and that graduates are capable to quickly put their learnings into practice.

Tim Enderlin said, “The SURAFCO projectresponds to the needs of the marginalized rural poor communities and contributes to the country’s efforts to reduce poverty, especially women and men from ethnic groups”.