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Int’l Youth Day celebrations seek to transform education

More than 300 young people from around the country met at the Lao Youth Union in Vientiane on Wednesday to celebrate International Youth Day (August 12) under the global theme of ‘Transforming education’.
With support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Lao Youth Union, this year’s International Youth Day provided an opportunity to celebrate and promote youth contributions to education and the empowerment of young people to make education more inclusive and equitable.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary-General of the Lao Youth Union, Dr Alounxay Sounalath, said today’s generation of young people aged under 25 makes up almost 60 percent of the country’s population.
He said there was a saying in Laos that young people are the backbone of the nation. Therefore, investing in them, especially in crucial areas like education, health, labour, protection and participation, was equal to investing in socio-economic development.
“25 years ago (in 1994), the government made a promise at the International Conference on Population Development to meet the special needs of adolescents and youth, especially young women, for access to education, health, counselling, and high-quality reproductive health services,” he said.
“Now 25 years have passed and tremendous progress has been made by the government, with support from many partners. This promise was kept for some but not for all,” he added.
UNPFA Representative to Laos, Ms Mariam A Khan, said that to reaffirm the commitment to helping young people realise their full potential in life, UNFPA has unveiled a new youth strategy, ‘My Body, My Life, My World.
This places their needs, aspirations, and ideals at the core of the UNFPA’s work to support the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the International Conference on Population Development agenda by 2030.
“We aim to ensure that adolescents, especially young girls like ‘Noi’, do not drop out of school and, if they do, efforts to reintegrate them into school or vocational training are strengthened. This will ensure Laos has a skilled labour force that contributes to economic growth and prosperity,” Ms Khan said.
The event also revealed the winners of the “Transforming education” drawing contest, and a youth-led panel discussion on sexual reproductive health, education, and employment drew attention from policymakers.
The occasion ended with young people and officials from the international community and government jointly signing a banner to reaffirm commitment to the International Conference on Population Development agenda.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update August 16, 2019)

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