The Prime Minister of Laos, Mr. Sonexay Siphandone discussed plans to address the increase in school dropout rates and decline in student enrolment across Laos during the ongoing National Assembly session in Vientiane Capital on Monday.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Sonexay highlighted various factors contributing to the alarming decline in school-going rates. He attributed this decline to personal circumstances, poor school conditions, and financial hardships faced by parents.
In addition, the Prime Minister emphasized that the absence of dormitory facilities in certain rural schools, as well as the long distances that some children have to travel to reach school, further discourage regular attendance, particularly among girls and children from low-income households.
To resolve this issue, Mr. Sonexay emphasized that the Ministry of Education would extend support to financially disadvantaged students by ensuring access to basic educational materials and exempting them from paying school fees. Schools in rural areas will undergo improvements as well to ensure that residential facilities are made available for students.
He also outlined a comprehensive plan for the next six months, including an emphasis on vocational training for students. The government aims to encourage applicants to select courses that equip them with practical skills, enabling them to secure employment and become self-sufficient upon graduation.
To strengthen the education system, the government will also expedite the enactment of an education law that will hold parents accountable for the completion of their children’s education. Local education authorities and parent associations will also be roped in to ensure that this law is followed.
Additionally, officials from the Ministry of Education will carry out assessments to ensure the quality of education being imparted.
According to UNICEF, 2022 saw a significant increase in learning losses among Lao children due to school closures, high dropouts, and low enrollment rates.
The report showed a worrisome 2.7 percent decrease in young children attending school, and both primary and middle schools experienced lower student intake and a concerning rise in dropout rates, especially among boys. All the more concerning was the fact that only 77 percent of students reached Grade 5, which is the same level as the 2015/16 academic year.
The lack of access to affordable and quality education poses a serious threat to the country’s progress and socioeconomic development. To address this crisis, the government needs to swiftly implement efficient plans that will help the country tide over this alarming decline in student attendance in schools across Laos.
During the current National Assembly session, the government has also vowed to tackle the shortage of teachers in rural areas.