The Japanese government has provided grant assistance of more than US$450,381 to build secondary school facilities and support gender education in Bokeo province. A signing ceremony for a grant contract for the project took place on December 1 between the Ambassador of Japan to Laos, Mr Takeshi Hikihara, and Project Manager of Plan International Japan, Ms Chiya Nagashima. Plan International Japan is a Japanese non-profit organisation that has been actively engaged in development support for the education and health sectors in Laos since 2007. The grant extended at this time will fund activities in the first year of this three-year project. The project, Better secondary education for girls through promotion of gender equity, aims to create gender-sensitive school environments and develop the capacity of secondary school teachers, students and local communities to promote gender equality. The project will target all 10 secondary schools in Pha-oudom district, Bokeo province. In the first year, the project will provide opportunities to learn basic knowledge about gender issues. Two teachers from each school will be selected as gender focal teachers, who will be expected to lead activities at their respective schools.