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Switzerland supports agriculture and forest college reform in Laos

The Swiss government has provided US$4.2 million for the third phase of the Support to the Reform of the Agriculture and Forestry Colleges (SURAFCO) project in Laos.

The overall goal of SURAFCO is to strengthen the quality and practical teaching in all five Agriculture and Forestry Colleges of Laos, running from 2017-2020.

The colleges will focus on improving skills-based education, management of the colleges, campus infrastructure, updating the teaching equipment, facilitating knowledge sharing and exchange events. The technical support to implement the project is provided by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation.

An agreement was signed yesterday in Vientiane by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham and Director of Cooperation for the Mekong Region of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) Mr Tim Enderlin.

The renewed funding contributes to the development of skilled human resources needed to promote the modernisation of the agricultural and forestry sector in Laos.

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 subsistence-based to market-based agriculture.

Dr Phouangparisak said the 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 province 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 skills-based and student-centred curriculum. The nationally revised curriculum consists of 60 percent practical teaching and 40 percent theory, for a higher diploma.

The 80 percent of graduates from the first two project phases, first phase from 2009-2016 and second phase from 2012-2016, have either found employment or are self-employed within 1-2 years after their graduation. Feedback from public and private sector employers indicates the education is seen as relevant and that graduates are capable of quickly putting their learning into practice.

Mr Enderlin also said the SURAFCO project responded to the needs of marginalised rural poor communities and contributed to the country's efforts to reduce poverty, especially amongst men and women from ethnic groups.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update
March 07,

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