Laos Australia National Scholarships (LANS) Congratulations Ceremony
Wednesday 5th November 2014, National University of Laos
Professor Dr Somsy Gnophanxay, Vice President, National University of Laos,
distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
Today it is my great pleasure, on behalf of the Australian Government, to join you today to recognise 74 high-achieving young men and women who have received awards to study at the National University of Laos under the Laos Australia National Scholarships Program – the LANS program.
We have with us today some of the future leaders of the Lao PDR, selected from a pool of hundreds of quality applicants. Ready to make a major contribution in fields vital to the country’s socio-economic development – in business, education, agriculture and the environment.
Award winners from 12 provinces across the Lao PDR – from Huaphanh, Oudomxay, Luang Prabang, Phongsaly, Xiengkhouang, Xayabury, Xaysomboun, Boilkhamxay, Champasack, Saravan, Attapeau, and some home town winners living here in Vientiane.
These bright, young men and women will join over 200 others already studying under the LANS program – and I welcome a number of them who have joined us today to congratulate those who are following in their footsteps.
This program offers around 70 scholarships annually to support students from mostly remote areas to complete a bachelor’s degree at the National University of Laos.
Congratulations to each of this year’s 74 awardees. University is an exciting time in your lives, and one I am certain you will look back on with great pride, and with many positive memories.
It’s of course as much about an education as it is about schooling. About our personal development, our social skills and opening up our minds to new horizons, new possibilities. And it’s about determining the path you will eventually take in your professional lives.
It’s also about determining where you will make your mark in life. How you can rise to the personal challenges you set yourself. And how you can contribute something back to the Lao PDR and its socio-economic development, not least in your home districts or provinces.
Sure, there are exams, assignments, deadlines, the odd lecture or tutorial you probably should attend. But there’s also sport, music, the arts, and meeting attractive boys and girls. These are all important parts of a university education too.
Please just make sure you’re a responsible student, and a positive influence, in how you spend your spare time while at university.
The LANS scheme, now in its fourth year, is an important part of Australia’s support for the Lao PDR’s human resource development goals.
Australia is delighted to be able to help young, talented Lao students from disadvantaged backgrounds gain the knowledge, skills and qualifications they need to build rewarding and productive careers.
I don’t think there is any more important area where Australia’s aid program could be working in the Lao PDR right now, than in education, building on many years of assistance in the sector.
Australia’s annual $60 million aid program in the Lao PDR includes these Lao scholarships, along with around 50 Australia Awards scholarships for study in Australia each year
We also have major programs designed to improve access to and the quality of basic education – an $86 million program over the next four years announced by Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, alongside Deputy Prime Minister Dr Phangkham Viphavanh in Vientiane in July.
As a regional neighbour and partner, this five decades of support for the Lao PDR’s economic development is very much in Australia’s best interest.
A stable and increasingly prosperous Lao PDR is the kind of neighbour and partner in regional affairs Australia will want to work with indefinitely into the future.
I hope each of you, our awards winners, will make your mark and play a role in the Lao PDR’s transition in the years ahead.
Thank you to Dr Somsy and his colleagues from the National University of Laos, our partners in this program, and our colleagues from the Laos Australia Institute for all their work in managing LANS, and staging today’s event.
I pay tribute too to the teachers involved in this program, for your continued support and for the vital role you play today in helping these young leaders of tomorrow to expand their horizons, and reach for the stars.
Congratulations again to our 74 scholarship winners, and every success in your studies and your future careers. Australia and the Lao PDR are both counting on you.