In a heartwarming display of gratitude, more than 1,000 children from across Laos celebrated their teachers through a showcase of artwork.
Their pictures are displayed in an art exhibition, “A United Story from Every Child: A Tribute to All Teachers,” at Parkson shopping mall, Vientiane Capital, from 21-25 October.
The event, organized by the Lao government and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), was a reminder of the positive impact that teachers have on the lives of their students, and the important role they play in shaping the future of Laos.
“The road towards sustainable development begins in the classroom. Thus, today’s event represents a heartfelt gesture of appreciation to all our teachers who continue to develop the minds of our children and the nation’s future,” remarked Minister of Education and Sports Phout Simmalavong Phout at the event, which also celebrated the 50th anniversary of cooperation between the Lao Government and UNICEF.
Lao has been working to improve education since 1973. In the following five decades, the country has made significant progress by increasing the net enrolment from 40 percent to over 95 percent. The number of primary school teachers also increased from only 8,000 in 1973 to more than 33,000 nationwide today, according to Lao News Agency
Despite the progress, Laos is still facing critical challenges in improving the quality of education as inadequately trained teachers have to work for low salaries or on a volunteer basis. These issues have forced thousands of educators to resign and discouraged new teachers from entering the field.
The current economic downturn in Laos has not only led to a teacher shortage but has also led to a growing number of students dropping out of higher education. As of this year, Lao National University of Laos counted an alarming 26 percent decrease in enrollment compared to the 2021-2022 academic year.
In July, a member of the National Assembly from Savannakhet province, Khamphan Khounsavanh, stated that the province is facing a severe shortage of teachers, revealing that only 47 new civil servant positions were allocated to public schools this year.
The ministry also ensured that it would collaborate with provincial authorities to provide financial relief for teachers and volunteer educators in the form of accommodation and basic living expenses.
“To invest in our teachers today is ultimately to invest in the future of Laos,” said Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF representative to Laos.