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High Dropout Rate Still a Challenge for Laos Education Ministry

Source: Asia News Network

Thousands of students dropped out of higher education, vocational education and teacher training from 2021-2024, according to the Ministry of Education and Sports.

During the academic years 2021-2023, some 1,696 students across the country quit their studies.

A total of 730 students dropped out of vocational education courses in the academic year 2021-2022, 563 people dropped out in the 2022-2023 year, and 266 people quit in the current academic year.

In teacher training colleges, 278 students dropped their courses in the academic year 2021-2022, 164 in 2022-2023, and 199 in the current academic year.

The Ministry of Education and Sports reported the figures at an annual meeting of education administrators from across the country.

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The consensus is that insufficient investment is being ploughed into educational development, while many parents are unable to continue to pay tuition fees.

The financial hardship suffered by many families means that some students have to work to earn the money needed to pay for daily living costs.

In addition, many students who do complete higher education courses are unable to find work with either a state or private organisation, while most educational institutions do not offer attractive teaching and learning conditions.

Furthermore, education materials and scholarships for disadvantaged and poor students are in short supply and there is little motivation for students to pursue courses that often do not reap them any rewards.

During the education administrators meeting, the Education and Sports Department of Bokeo province reported that the number of children dropping out of school had increased this school year.

More than 5,000 children dropped out of primary, lower and upper secondary schools in Bokeo province.

The department attributes the high dropout rate to schools being located a long way from children’s homes, and the financial hardship suffered by many families, meaning that some children have to work to boost household incomes.

Other reasons cited by the department for the slump in school attendance were the lack of student dormitories.

There are also a large number of children who finish primary school but cannot go on to secondary school, mainly for reasons of financial hardship.

The Ministry of Education and Sports has identified ways to help remedy the situation and plans to work with local administrations to allocate farmland, create jobs, and strengthen labour management in an attempt to reduce poverty levels so that children are not forced to become workers.

The ministry will circulate the regulations on school attendance among students and their parents, and team up with all sectors to encourage more children to attend school.

Education authorities will also upgrade school buildings to improve the learning environment and make schools more attractive to students.

Several projects aimed at improving the standard of education have been incorporated into the National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2021-2025.

The ministry is aiming to increase school enrolment next academic year and is taking steps to lower the dropout rate.