President and Mrs. Higgins with students of the Lao National Institute of Tourism & Hospitality (LANITH)
President Higgins is on the first official visit by an Irish President to Lao PDR this week. Through our Embassy in Hanoi, Ireland has an Irish Aid partnership programme with Lao PDR, supporting sustainable economic development. Funding is also channelled through global health, education and nutrition partnerships from Irish Aid headquarters. Over the period 2014-2016 the Embassy programme has contributed more than €1.5 million to projects in Lao PDR, focusing on the clearance of unexploded ordnance; nutrition; health and education programmes; capacity building for non-profit associations and trade development.
The visit began on Monday 14 November with a series of bilateral meetings with the President of Lao PDR, the Prime Minister and the President of National Assembly. Discussions focused on measures to promote bilateral relations and cooperation in various areas, particularly in education and training.
Since 2013, six students from Lao PDR have completed higher certificate courses in culinary and hospitality management in Dublin with the support of Lux Development and Irish Aid.
On the second day of the visit, President and Mrs. Higgins visited the Lao National Institute of Tourism & Hospitality (LANITH). LANITH is dedicated to providing a fully-rounded education, establishing a national tourism curriculum, using forward-thinking teaching methods and providing international-level training facilities, resources, and equipment. The President was briefed by the school’s management board on the scholarship programme which was designed to assist lecturers at LANITH to further develop their tourism and hospitality curriculum and to learn from the extensive experience of Dublin Institute of Technology’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Since 2013, six students from Lao PDR have completed higher certificate courses in culinary and hospitality management in Dublin with the support of Lux Development and Irish Aid. The President also met with the small but vibrant Irish community and Ireland's partner organisations in Vientiane.
On Wednesday, President Higgins visited Mahosot Hospital in central Vientiane, a training hospital providing diagnostic and curative care across a range of disciplines. The visit was an opportunity for the President to see at first-hand the Lao efforts to promote improved early child nutrition and to witness the positive partnership between government and civil society, supported by Irish Aid, in which women are supported in learning about early child nutrition before and immediately after birth. Between 2013 and 2016, Irish Aid has disbursed €500,000 in global thematic funding for a regional nutrition programme with Alive and Thrive. The programme is aimed at promoting legislative reform regarding nutrition, and is focused on infant and young child feeding, across seven countries in South East Asia including Lao PDR.