Student Dreams and Aspirations in Agriculture and Forestry Education – Lao PDR
The main vision of the Support to the Reform of the Agricultural and Forestry Colleges in Laos (SURAFCO) project was to revamp the National Agriculture and Forestry Colleges (NAFC) into a well-managed center of excellence for skills-based education in upland farming. The NAFC serves as a model college for all other Agriculture and Forestry colleges in Laos. The colleges offer skills-based and market oriented education, training, and services, that provides opportunities to its graduates to use their education to contribute to poverty reduction, food security, and income generation in Lao PDR.
Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has been supportive of the reform and has provided both technical and financial support to the project since 2008.
The SURAFCO project, with technical support by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, has been working closely with the Northern Agriculture Forestry College (NAFC) in Luang Prabang to provide quality and practical education for which it has gained a highly respected reputation in upland agriculture education.
The knowledge and experience gained through two phases of SURAFCO, will allow project staff and school officials to adapt and implement the best practices to an additional four Agriculture and Forestry College campuses throughout the country during the third project phase, 2017-2020.
SDC recently visited the Luang Prabang campus and interviewed four current students about their dreams and aspirations and what their education at the school means for their future. SDC was also able to meet with two successful graduates and talk about their experiences entering the workforce and what advice they could give to students that were currently enrolled or thinking about enrolling into agriculture education.
Their stories are a good reflection of the current project status.
Mr. Hankeo Souvong, Oudomxay Province
First year student, Undeclared
Ms. Phaidin Invengthong, Houaphan Province
First year student, Forestry Major
One of the biggest strengths of the project is the practical curricula which is designed to focusing more on the practical experience and student-centered approaches for learning and teaching. The revised curricula is now being implemented by all five agriculture colleges nationwide and was approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Education and Sports, with 60% practical work and 40% theory.
Mr. Thongsengmany, Udomxay Province
Third year student, Forestry Major
Mr. Khamhin, Xayaburi Province
Second year student, Animal Husbandry
The NAFC has been promoting gender and social equity among students and staff. One important element is an annual promotion campaign in remote districts which has successfully contributed to the higher enrollment rates, to a higher number of female students, and to reaching out to ethnic groups and poor students. Most students are from rural areas, and the percentage of ethnic groups has increased to 39% in 2015.
Ms. Dam Manison, Luang Prabang Province
Animal husbandry graduate
Mr. Chansy, Luang Prabang Province
Based on the Tracer study (2015), 80% of graduates from the first 2 batches under the new curriculum at NAFC were either employed or self-employed within 1-2 years after their graduation. This high employment rate is seen as a result of the practical orientation of the offered education, the good reputation of the college and relevant practical terms. A new Career Counseling Unit was established at the college in Luang Prabang and has started to contribute to this result.
Accumulated SDC Budget: (2008-2016) CHF 11,535,000