Laos' Education Minister Somkot Mangnohmek confirmed in a recent speech that the curriculum development under the educational reform plan, which aims to elevate Laos' educational system to the same standards as that of other Southeast Asian countries and to prepare teaching resources for the one-year extention in junior high schools, will be completed and will implemented by mid-2010.
Under this reform, there will be some new subjects added to the junior high school curriculum,
such as a foreign language as a second language, computers, knowledge on the environment and
nature, and law.
The one year addition will increase the junior high school years from 3 to 4 years. As both the numbers of primary and high school years will remain 5 and 3 respectively, the total number of years in Laos’ current secondary education system will increase from 6 to 7 years, while Laos’ overall academic years will extend to 12, which is the same as in the educational systems of other ASEAN nations. Meanwhile, Lao authorities will reduce the number of undergraduate academic years from 5 to 4 to correspond to the systems in other countries in the region as well.
The academic year extention in Laos' secondary education means that the Ministry of Education will need to build no less than 1,224 classrooms to accom-modate some 36,000 junior high school students expected throughout the country, as well an additional 9,000 personnel.
However, this could be problematic for ministry as it is allowed, for the current 2009-10 fiscal year, to add only 4,800 people to its current human resource sector. In addition, it is given a budget of only 6.5 billion kips, which educational officials say is enough to train only 2,963 personnel to cover the extra year, because parts of that budget are appropriated for the construction of new school buildings as well as printing text books for the new curriculum.
Songrit Pongern reported in Lao from Bangkok on August 26, 2009. (English translation by Buasawan Simmala.)