Laos may not reach education targets: gov’t official

Education minister calls for further education reform

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Minster of Education and Sports, Dr Phankham Viphavanh has called for education officials and all other relevant sectors to work hard to achieve the goal of education for all by 2015.

Dr Phankham made the call during an address at the 8th annual meeting of the National Committee on Education Reform, which began in Vientiane yesterday.

The two-day meeting aims to address pressing issues and challenges regarding education standards in Laos, including university entrance, vocational education, dispatching students to study in Vietnam and as well as other related issues.

The meeting participants will focus on the particular problem of improving the curriculum and teaching standards and incorporating information technology into the schooling system.

They will also look at providing more incentives for teachers to work in rural areas to address shortages there, upgrading existing school facilities, and building new schools to expand the education system to the more remote areas of the country.

The relevant stakeholders reviewed the implementation and success of the National Education Reform Strategic Development in 2013, with meeting participants listening to an address on the matter by senior education officials and academic staff.

To achieve the goals of the strategic reform plan, Dr Phankham said great efforts must be made to continue expanding access to education – especially in rural and remote areas. It was also essential to improve the curriculum in all areas of education, upgrade teachers’ qualifications, and strive to eliminate illiteracy.

He encouraged all participants to work together to restructure the higher education system by setting up more universities and ensuring an adequate number of skilled graduates to satisfy the demands of the government sector and private companies wishing to invest in Laos.

The construction of model schools around the country that offer access information and computer technology and the requisite training for students is now 95 percent complete, which is a significant achievement given the barriers to technology in remote parts of the country.

Education reform also focuses on the continuing challenge of expanding access to schooling for populations in isolated and mountainous areas, and training people in various ethnic groups to become administrators, managers, technical advisors and teachers in their communities.

Training and upgrading the qualifications of educational administrators and teachers in ethnic communities will ensure they are able to take more responsibility in their roles as educators and improve the standards of education in their villages, the ministry said.

The government has placed a priority on the expansion of education in remote, rural, isolated and mountainous areas which are home to many different ethnic groups, with a particular focus on giving ethnic girls the chance to attend school.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update Febuary 04 , 2014)



Laos may not reach education targets: gov’t official

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A Lao education official has called into question the attainment of Lao PDR’s 2015 education targets, according to state-run daily Vientiane Times Monday.

The unnamed official said that some areas in education were lagging behind, which might prevent the Ministry of Education and Sports from achieving its education related goals by 2015.

Laos has made steady progress in the education sector in recent years. Since 2011, primary school enrollment has increased from 94. 1 percent to 95.2 percent and the gender gap in enrollment has fallen from 7 percent to 2 percent.

According to figures from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), student survival rate has increased from 48 percent in 1992 to 70 percent in 2012. Despite gains in student retention Lao PDR still lags behind its neighbors and is well off the 2015 target.

According to the source, senior education officials will meet with development partners and donors here in capital Vientiane later this week to discuss matters relating to education reform. The official emphasized the need to remove barriers that prevent children, specifically girls from isolated or rural communities from staying in school.

The Ministry of Education and Sports agreed to education related goals in 2000 along with 160 other countries. Intended outcomes are the expansion of early childhood care and education, free and compulsory primary education, the promotion of life skills, increased adult literacy, gender equality and an increased quality of education in general.

Malnutrition during early childhood is a continued concern for the expansion of education in the country. Poverty in isolated communities may lead to a general lack of nutrition which in turn impairs brain development as well as a child’s ability to learn.

The expansion of secondary education is also high on the agenda as is the improvement of literacy rates amongst women. Disparity between the quality of education for rural and urban areas is also of concern.

Development partners, policy makers and donors have been encouraged to show strong leadership and commitment towards putting education at the heart of the developmental agenda.


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