Laos plans to increase the number of academic years from 11 to 12, adding another year to junior high schools even though it is facing serious teacher shortages across the country.
The plan, to be implemented in 2010, means that junior high schools will be extended from 3 to 4 years, while elementary and high schools will remain the same - five-year and three-year long respectively. Laos will have to considerably increase its educational budget, so that it can build more schools and train more teachers to accomodate the increased number of students.
Officials say there are currently approximately 56,000 teachers across the country, although more than 65,000 are needed. Over 4,000 students graduate from teacher training schools annually, but a majority does not take up the profession they have learned because of low pay and unwillingness to teach in rural areas. Therefore, teacher shortages are more severe in remote areas and provinces.
Listen to our Laos Today report for details in Lao.