Shortage of Teachers Threatens Closure of 25 Schools in Savannakhet

The mobile school in Ban Pa Long Nai village. Savannakhet province, Laos (Photo: UNICEF)

A dire shortage of teachers in Savannakhet province could lead to the closure of 25 schools next academic year, said a National Assembly (NA) member during the ongoing 5th Ordinary Session of the 9th National Assembly.

A NA member from Savannakhet, Mr. Khamphan Khounsavanh, said that the province is facing a severe shortage of teachers, with only 47 civil servant positions allocated this year, which is not enough to replace the 223 teachers who will retire next year.

As a result, seven primary schools have already closed temporarily, and 21 others are relying on the availability of volunteer teachers to continue their operations. However, many of these volunteers are resigning after working for a long period without any sign of being hired as civil servants.

According to Vientiane Times, volunteer teachers may teach as volunteers for a minimum of four years and a maximum of 11 years.

Mr. Khamphan requested the government to approve civil servant status for more teachers or authorize payment for contract agreements with 1,151 volunteer teachers across the province to prevent schools from closing, which is estimated at LAK 29 billion per year.

The teacher shortage is one of many obstacles plaguing the Lao education system. Another major hurdle is the alarming decline in school-going rates, which is due to poor school conditions and financial hardships faced by parents due to high inflation, especially in rural areas.

Related to this issue, during a recent NA session, Mrs. Saysomsuen Photisan, a Savannakhet constituent, pointed out that many teachers are resigning due to poor pay. She called on the government to increase the minimum wage for teachers and other civil servants.

The government is now considering several solutions to address the shortage of teachers, including increasing the quota of allocated teachers, postponing retirement for senior teachers with good health, formulating specific policies for teachers in rural areas, and providing support to financially disadvantaged students.

Given the concerning situation in Savannakhet, leaders from the province have urged the government to urgently resolve this issue so that all children in Savannakhet could have access to quality education.