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UNICEF Executive Board members visit child friendly school in northern Lao PDR


OUDOMXAY, NORTHERN LAO PDR, February 2008 - Children at Nongboua primary school in Oudomxay’s La district laid on a warm welcome for a visiting delegation from the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.

The six person delegation headed by Board President H.E. Mr. Anders Lidén, the Permanent Representative of Sweden at the United Nations is on a week-long visit to Lao PDR to review UNICEF’s country programme. The delegation includes the Board’s four vice-presidents - respectively the Permanent Representatives at the UN of Mali, Malaysia, Guatemala and Romania – and the Secretary of the Executive Board, Ms Kirsi Madi.

Nong Bua primary is one of over 450 schools in Lao PDR to have benefited from the Child Friendly School strategy being implemented nationwide by the Ministry of Education with UNICEF’s support. Under the strategy, the Ministry works with parents, schools and the wider community to ensure that no child misses out on primary education.

The school is a beneficiary of Access to Basic Education in Laos (ABEL), a joint UNICEF/World Food Programme initiative funded by the Australian Government through AusAID.

The delegation toured brightly-decorated classrooms equipped with teaching aids and other materials meant to create an interactive learning environment, and help teachers deliver lessons that are relevant to children’s lives.

“Schools like this are a fine example of what UNICEF and its different partners – whether in the government or outside – can offer to children in poor rural communities,” said Ambassador Lidén. Speaking after touring classrooms and meeting children and teachers, he added that he was pleased to see that so much was done to motivate families to send their young daughters to school.

The delegation was shown the school’s improved water and sanitation facilities installed with UNICEF’s support in order to create a healthy, safe and protective school environment -- a key component of the Child Friendly School strategy.

Later, the delegation saw pupils receiving a micro-nutrient fortified snack provided by the WFP, and designed to help improve students’ concentration in class. WFP also provides rations of rice, salt and canned fish to primary students as an incentive to parents to enroll and keep their children in school.

Later in the day, Mr Lidén and his colleagues attended the official opening of a new WFP-UNICEF common premises in Oudomxay. The office will facilitate monitoring and support to the two agencies’ programmes in the north of the country.

On Thursday, the UNICEF Executive Board members are due to visit examples of UNICEF’s health outreach work in rural areas of Luangprabang province.


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