Education is one of the most vital institutions in our children’s lives and deciding upon the right school can be challenging under the best of circumstances. When a family is relocated overseas it can be even more daunting because of the myriad issues and unfamiliar choices involved. The basic (K-12) school choices in Vientiane fall into the following categories:
- International school system
- Bilingual schools (based on American, Australian and/or British curriculum)
- French school system
Each system produces certain advantages and disadvantages, or may not cater to your child’s needs. Naturally, each individual school has its own strengths and weaknesses. This article gives a brief overview of many schools in Vientiane and should serve as a guide when making the choice for your child.
Let’s start with the definition of “International Schools” and “Bilingual Schools”:
Schools offering a curriculum different from the national curriculum of the country in which they are located, and that, as a deliberate policy, attract students temporarily residing in a foreign nation to be educated together – often characterized by a commitment to international education philosophy and bilingualism
Bilingual Education Programs
Activities that offer content area instruction in two languages — appreciation of participants’ cultural heritage is emphasized, and native speakers of both languages may be present — attention is given to developing the academic skills of minority students while they learn the language of the majority culture (Note: Do not confuse with “Second Language Programs”).
When choosing a school it is important to do as much research as possible. Once you have identified the available schools it is a matter of deciding which one will be best for your child or children. To begin with, look carefully at the curriculum and the qualifications offered. Here are some key criteria:
The main choices are International Baccalaureate (IB), British, Australian and American. There is also Lycée Hoffet which caters specifically to French speaking nationalities, such as French, Belgian and Swiss (French). Whilst you may be keen to stick to the national curriculum your children have been studying previously, if you are likely to be a transient expatriate, moving on to another country at some stage in their education, you should also consider the IB. IB programmes are recognized around the world and ensure an increased adaptability and mobility for IB students.
IB Programmes and IB World Schools
There are three IB programs catering to students aged 3-18 years of age:
- the Primary Years Program for ages 3-11 years
- the Middle Years Program for ages 11-16 years
- the pre-university Diploma Program for ages 16-18
IB World Schools may offer one, two or all three IB programmes. This means that not all IB schools provide an IB education for all age levels. A school may, for example, provide general primary or secondary education according to a national curriculum (eg. American, British, Canadian, Australian) but offer the IB Diploma Programme for its pre-university students. Parents should ask whether or not a school has been officially authorized by the IB to offer all of the IB programmes,
Here in Vientiane, there is only one school authorized to offer all three IB programmes exclusively: Vientiane International School (VIS).
Does the school have accreditation from a third party authority? The main accreditation agencies for International schools are: the Council of International Schools (CIS); Worldwide Education Service (WES); Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC); New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Please note that “membership” with these organizations does not mean that the school is actually accredited by them. Ensure that the school has gone through the accreditation study and that it is accredited by the organization.
Most international schools teach in the English language but you should consider the nationalities of the staff. Are they all native English speakers? Are Early Years teachers specifically trained for young learners? Does the school have a full schedule of teacher professional development in place to ensure their staff are kept up to date with both academic and best practice in teaching? What is the teaching staff turnover?
What is the student to teacher ratio? Are other support staff in the class, such as Teaching Assistants, carers (for younger students), learning- and language support staff?
After School Programs
Is there a varied and well-catered after school program for students? Check for extra costs also.
Student Safety and Supervision
Are there adequate security measures in place at the school? What happens at drop off and pick up and are there procedures in place for when someone other than the parent needs to collect a student? Is there a policy on school bullying and is there a full-time school counselor ?
Finally, although it is not always possible, the best way to make a decision about a school is to make a visit, preferably with your children. Use this opportunity to meet the head teacher or principal, speak to teachers and get a feel for the atmosphere school. If you cannot visit in person the school may be able to put you in touch with current parents who can share their impression of the institution.
With regards to the schools in Vientiane, by definition there is only one school which fulfils the entire criteria of being an “International School”, which is Vientiane International School (VIS). All other schools, despite calling themselves “International” are by definition “Bilingual Schools”. They mainly differentiate themselves by the curriculum offered.
Click here for Directory of International Preschools & Nurseries, Vientiane
Here’s our Listing of Schools in Vientiane:
Vientiane International School
The VIS (Vientiane International School) is an independent school offering an educational program for qualified students, ages 3-18, of all nationalities.
The School operates under status conferred by the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is an International Baccalaureate World School.
VIS is a fully authorized IB Diploma School, and students in grades 11 and 12 can earn the IB Diploma. VIS is also authorized for the IB Primary and for the IB Middle Years Program.
The language of instruction is English. The school year extends from mid-August to mid-June.
VIS is a member of East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools and Mekong River International Schools Association. The school received accreditation in 2001 from both the US-based Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Council of International Schools (CIS). VIS is the only school in Laos accredited by these agencies
Kiettisack International School (KIS) Vientiane & Luang Prabang
Kiettisack International School (KIS) was established in 1992. Throughout the years, KIS has grown rapidly as a private academic institution which offers a high-quality and international education to children aged 2 to 18, from Nursery up through Secondary.
KIS’ curriculum is all taught in English. Furthermore, a parallel curriculum taught in Lao language is run at Pre-Primary and Primary levels, in the afternoon.
KIS’ main goal is to give their students Knowledge, Inspiration and Success so they can go on to meet their personal and professional objectives in adult life.
KIS offers an international curriculum accredited by the Lao Ministry of Education and taught in English. The key learning areas are English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. The curriculum is adapted from the NSW and Victoria government education programs. Bilingual support in Lao is provided in all preparatory and Primary classes. There is also a Lao program, which runs daily for two hours in the afternoon following a Lao Ministry of Education prescribed curriculum. KIS is following the IGCSE Secondary syllabus. On February 24, 2010 KIS has met all the standards required to be a Cambridge International Centre and student are allowed to sit for the examination at KIS campus. As students progress from Year 9 to Year 12, taking IGCSE subjects, they will gain the certificate from Cambridge University, England.
Kiettisack International School
Lao-Thai Friendship Road
Post Box 4348
Sokpaluang Village, Vientiane
Phone: 021-314 979 (KIS 1) and 021-312 277 (KIS 2)
Kiettisack International School Luang Prabang
Road 13 North
Khomkhuang Village, P.O. Box 221
Luang Prabang District & Province
Phone: (856) 30 9610948
Phone / Fax: (856) 71 253765
Australian International School (AIS)
AIS The Australian International School of Vientiane is an international school offering the NSW Australian Curriculum from K-6 and will add on a grade level each year up to yr 12.
AIS’s program provides a strong academic and socially conscious foundation for all future studies. The curriculum is built around 8 subjects groups: English, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Personal development, Health and Physical Education, The Arts, Human Society and its Environment, L.A.L (Lao as an Additional Language), And L.O.T.E (Language Other Than English)
Panyathip International School (PIS)
Panyathip International School has two purpose built campuses in Vientiane – the Kindergarten campus caters for children between the ages of 2 and 5+ years of age. The Primary / Secondary campus offers an International programme for classes from Year 1 to Year 12.
At Panyathip International School the following curriculum models are offered:
IPC – The International Primary Curriculum (IPC) is a comprehensive, thematic, creative curriculum for 3-12 year olds, which extends knowledge, skill and understanding, developing personal attributes that supports an international perspective.The IPC is being used in nearly 1800 schools in over 90 countries around the world.
CIE – University of Cambridge International Examinations is the world’s largest provider of international qualifications for 13-19 year olds.
At present, the school has more than 800+ students shared between the two Campuses. In August 2014 Panyathip Opened an International school to serve the community of Savannakhet
Sapanthong Tai Village, Sisattanak District, Vientiane Lao PDR
Telephone numbers: +856 30 9833999, +856 30 9818999
Fax: +856 21 314810
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Primary / Secondary Campus
Sapanthong Neua Village, Sisattanak District, Vientiane Lao PDR
Telephone numbers: +856 21 412825
Fax: +856 21 414913
Email Address: email@example.com
Phonsavang Neua Village, Kaysone District, Savannakhet Province
Telephone numbers: +856 41 252761
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastern Star Bilingual Schools
EAS is equipped to provide studies to Local and International Board examinations offering students the opportunity to gain admission in Laos and elsewhere. Besides the promotion of education in Laos, the ultimate objective of Eastern Star Bilingual School is to develop and train creative intellectuals and enable them to face the challenges of the 21st Century in all spheres of life. The school runs from Kindergarten to Higher Secondary.
Eastern Star Bilingual Schools
Nong Bon, Vientiane
Phone: 021 261 614
Vientiane Pattana School
This is a bilingual school offering both Lao and English. The school offers Lao education from Preschool to Primary 7 according to the requirements of Ministry of Education. They also offer English for children from Preschool to Primary 7 using a modified American curriculum. This curriculum is designed to focus on the individual needs of each and every international student, to make sure they have an easy transition into their next school.
Vientiane Pattana School
Luang Prabang Road
Phone: 021 219 497
Sengdara Elementary School
Sengdara Elementary School utilizes an international honors curriculum (using American, British and Singaporean textbooks) grounded in solid academic tradition but fully geared to the new millennium. Sengdara’s academic programs prepare students for secondary and higher international level course work. Subjects taught include English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Information and Communication Technology, Social Studies, Physical Education and Home Economics. As part of the bilingual program, students study Lao courses via the national curriculum provided and supervised by the Ministry of Education of Laos.
Santisouk Montessori Preschool
Santisouk Montessori Preschool in Vientiane, Laos, is unique – a caring multicultural Montessori environment where children develop through child-centred learning through a curriculum specially tailored to Lao culture and international educational approaches.
They welcome children from 2 and a half to 6 years old for full or half days.
Through Montessori techniques and materials, Santisouk children develop a strong foundation in mathematics, language and literacy, history, cultural geography, zoology and botany, as well as practical everyday life skills such as cooking, sewing, cleaning and gardening. The children learn and grow through regular activities such as music and dance lessons, gymnastics, puppet theatre, arts, swimming, computer classes and excursions. The Santisouk teaching team conduct tuition in both English and Lao with emphasis on English, according to both children’s abilities and parents’ wishes. This enables the children to learn and work in both languages from an early age.
Watthana Montessori Preschool
WMS is a private school that offers Montessori Education for children ages 1.5 to 6 in Vientiane Capital. English is the main language of communication while Lao is used to supplement Lao children. The Watthana Montessori curriculum focuses on developing the fundamental knowledge, skills and behaviors which underpin all future learning. WMP encourage children to explore, solve problems, communicate, think, create and construct. Using Montessori teaching methods, teachers can support children’s learning and development through a combination of child-led and adult-led play-based learning, as well as active teacher led learning.
Watthana Montessori Preschool
Phonephanou Village, Vientiane
phone: 021 415 800
Sharon English School
The Sharon English School was established in 2004. The educational curriculum uses the standard of and is based on the TEKS Educational Curriculum from the State of Texas (USA). The tests in the upper grades are what all children in the State of Texas in the USA have used to test as well.
Sharon English School
Saphanthong Village, Vientiane
phone: 021-452 401 / 021-353 275
Oscar Bilingual School
Bilingual education involves teaching academic content in a native and secondary language. The international curriculum is based on Australian and UK models conjoined with curriculum from the Lao Ministry of Education.
The international curriculum is taught in English by qualified teachers from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, Holland and the U.S.
Oscar Bilingual School is building a state-of-the-art campus that will cater for learners from Nursery through to Year 12 and offer the IGCSE and Cambridge International Examinations, ready for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Crèche Xang Noï (French)
Crèche Xang Noï is a kindergarten for children 1 to 4 years old.
Xang Noï is open since 1997
Instructional languge is French, followed by Lao and English.
Ban Watnak, 14-335, Sockpaluang, Vientiane
Benoit Heuchenne, 021 31 24 38
Creche francophone Mosaique (French)
Creche francophone Mosaique is a kindergarten who take care of babies, toddlers and pre-school children (6month old to 6 years old)
Mosaique is open since september 2009.
Safety and clean environnement.
french speaking teachers, small group, creative activities.
Open for holidays, daycare center, welcome children with special needs.
Myriam Coupal 020 55 10 38 12
Marianne Dove 020 55 89 46 53
facebook: creche francophone laos mosaique
If you have information on any other schools in Vientiane, please send them to email@example.com.