Laos Education

Laos Education


During the war years there were major obstacles to a continuous schooling, but soon after the end of the war the education system improved considerably. In the mid-1990s, almost 70% of children started compulsory school. Ten years later, the proportion was 84%, slightly higher among the boys among the girls. The language of instruction is Lao. However, only some of the children complete the five-year compulsory schooling, which begins when they are six years old. This is mainly the case in remote small mountain villages where minority languages are spoken and where road connections are poor. Since 1990 private primary schools have been established and now there are also voluntary preschools. According to the 2005 census, over 27% of the adult population was still illiterate – 18% of men and 37% of women.

Laos Schooling

The primary school is followed by a voluntary three-year secondary school, where just over 1/3 of the age school starts, and then there is a three-year continuing school. In 1996, Vientiane founded the state university National University of Laos. Higher technical education is found in a number of cities, as well as higher education in medicine, teaching and agriculture. In 2007, 11% of men and 7% of women started college.

In 2006, 3% of the country’s GDP went to education, which is an internationally low percentage. There is a large shortage of school premises, materials and educated teachers, especially in the minority areas.


Vientiane, capital of Laos; approximately 254,000 residents (2009). Located on the Mekong River, Vientiane became an important trading city for trade with Thailand and other countries in the region. It is flooded when the Mekong regularly crosses its banks, but in the dry season the river is just a small stream. In the 1990’s, roads were set up for Vietnam and China and a bridge across the Mekong to Thailand.

After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, economic life was shrinking, and the capital had only a few factories and crafts. However, the reform policy of the late 1980’s has led to a significant economic boom, and foreign investment has come, especially from Thailand. The textile and clothing industry is one of the most successful areas. The city has also gained new market halls, and it now extends to the national symbol That Luang Temple, which along with hundreds of pagodas is an attraction for growing tourism. However, life is still peaceful in Vientiane compared to other Asian capitals.


Vientiane was founded on the banks of the Mekong in the 1300’s, and the Kingdom of Lao moved its capital from Luang Prabang in the 1500’s. Vientiane became one of several small kingdoms in the region. Thailand conquered the city in 1827 and effectively destroyed it after a riot while the population was relocated to Thailand. France conquered the area, and Thailand entered into an agreement whereby all territories east of the Mekong were surrendered to France in 1894. Vientiane, whose ruins had been discovered by the French in 1866, became the headquarters of the French administration until independence in 1945.

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