For many parents, education is the greatest wealth they can provide their children. However, in Laos, a majority of students won’t be able to finish their studies. It could be due to financial issues or a lack of teachers.
The scarcity of teachers in Laos makes schools either close or integrate. School districts also use volunteer staff, which could cause future students to lose access to education.
“If the government does not have any solution to this urgent problem, more schools in many provinces will be closed and students will lose access to education,” said Xayxomseun Phothisan, a Savannakhet province representative.
She appealed to the National Assembly’s 5th assembly to employ more state employees. Likewise, she asked for budget approvals for paying teacher salaries, allowing schools to have a sufficient number of needed faculty.
For 2023, the government plans to recruit 285 new teachers nationwide, a deficit of 55 from its hires last year. This descending trend started in 2017 when there was a reduction in state employee quotas because of a restricted budget. UNESCO noted that education expenditure (as a part of GDP) downsized from 3.2% in 2013 to 1.9% in 2021.
Lack of Teachers in Schools in Laos Leads to Closures
In the Savannakhet province, only 223 teachers are on its payroll. The region comprises over 430,000 people aged 19 and below. However, not everyone gets an education.
Even if the province is first in the nation’s school attendance for ages 6 to 11, only 68.7% of these children go to school. However, children aged 9 to 11 who attend school increased to 85.2%.
Unpaid volunteers also worked in the province’s 21 schools but quit eventually, knowing they won’t get payment even after years of working. Due to the lack of teaching staff, the province might close 25 schools.
The Lao government approved the province to hire 47 new teachers to teach in more than 15 educational districts. It means three new teachers will educate children per district, which isn’t enough to serve the student population.
The Need to Replace Aged and Retiring Teachers
Most paid teachers in Luang Prabang province’s XiengNgeun district, are old and near retirement, while others have health problems. The province needs around 100 teachers for primary and secondary schools. An education official said, they also need to replace the large number of quitting volunteer teachers.
According to the district official, the central government’s allotment to hire new state employees dropped. They were allowed to only recruit 10 new teachers for this year.
Less or No Access to Education
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is a member of the ASEAN, bordered by Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Most children living in remote or isolated areas face difficulty going to school due to long and dangerous journeys. This includes cost, family attitude and the necessity for children to help with household chores.
Around 4,000 Laos villages have no access to primary schools because a large percentage of primary school teachers have insufficient training. Besides, the government only spend 3.3% of Laos’ total GDP on education. The deficiency in the number of teachers causes most students to lose interest in learning and instead drop out.
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