Laos' top educator says the
development of his country's educational sector is continually progressing,
providing greater opportunities for Lao children in rural areas to enroll in
school and also increasing the number of literate people in Laos.
Education Minister Somkot Mangnohmek
said in a recent speech that, currently, Laos has 10 teacher training
institutions nationwide. The number of students majoring in education increased
from 15,738 people in 2006 to 17,481 in 2008, averaging an annual growth rate
of 5.4%. In addition, the literacy rate
of Lao people above 15 years old increased from 68.7% in 2000 to almost 77.9%
in 2008, or 96.36% of the country's literacy goal for 2010. The population of
vocational students also went up from 16,216 to 25,327 in 2008, while the
number of students in higher education institutions and universities increased
from 48,847 in 2006 to 78,109 in 2008, an average increase of 26.5% per year.
Mr. Mengnomek reiterated that the
progress in his country's educational development is clearly reflected in the
number of students which increased 26.5% from 2006 to 200, both in vocational
and higher learning institutions including Laos' three national universities.
The government has also expanded the number of elementary schools from 8,654
to over 8,830 in the same period, while the number of primary students went up
from 890,000 to more than 900,000, an annual increase of about 0.5%. This
resulted in an enrollment rate increase for Lao children, aged 6 to 10 years
old, from 84% in 2006 to almost 90% this year.
Secondary education is also expanding. In 2006, secondary schools numbered
980 but increased to 1,052 schools in
2008. Student enrollment in junior high schools went up from 240,000 to over
250,000, or from 50% to almost 60%, while high school students increased from
147,000 to over 154,000 in the same period, which translated into a ratio
increase from 34.5% to 37.2%, making Lao officials confident that Laos will
definitely achieve the goal of a 40% high school enrollment rate by 2010.
Nonetheless, Laos' educational development still faces many challenges, not
only in the areas of human resources, but also buildings, budget, and educational
quality. Laos is classified among the countries with
the lowest quality of education in the Association of
Southeast Nations (ASEAN).
Songrit Pongern reported from Bangkok.
(English translation by Buasawan Simmala and Dara Baccam)
Listen to our audio files for more details in Lao.