State School Numbers Chalk Up Decline

Source: Vientiane Times

The number of state primary schools has decreased in Vientiane because fewer children are registering for classes while many parents have enrolled their children in private schools.

As a result, the remaining students from several state schools have been combined into larger schools in nearby villages, an official in charge of the issue at the Ministry of Education and Sports told Vientiane Times yesterday.

In the meantime, education officials are investigating the reasons for the falling number of state school pupils, the official said.

In Vientiane, students from five state primary schools have been sent to other schools this academic year, with three in Chanthabouly district, and one each in Sikhottabong and Sisattanak districts, according to an official report.

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More than 74,000 students in Vientiane took classes at 524 state and private primary schools in the 2016-17 academic year, with more than 75,000 students taking classes at 523 state and private primary schools in the current 2017-18 academic year.

According to the Department of General Education, there are currently about 9,000 primary schools and more than 16,000 lower and upper secondary schools across the country.

Many parents are keen to place their children in what they consider to be better learning environments, with some believing private school teaching standards are better than in state schools.

The relocation of students to private institutions could be one of the reasons for the reduced enrolment at some state schools. Deputy Director General of the Department of General Education, Mr Banchong Ladthavarn, told Vientiane Times yesterday that education officials have discussed the issue and the impact on state schools and teachers, along with students and parents.

The ministry has advised that teachers and students should expect to combine with other schools nearby if the number of students at their school decreases significantly.

A class size of not more than 30 students per teacher is considered standard for primary and secondary schools.

“Some teachers will be relocated to replace teachers who have retired, while others will be reassigned elsewhere according to individual school requirements,” Mr Banchong added.