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Concerning the public current expenditure on primary education, a first observation is the large increase in the budgetary figures over the last nine years (from 1.694 billion Kips in 1990 to 18.014 billion Kips in 1998). This increase over time should however not be directly interpreted as corresponding neither to a net real increase in the amount of public resources made available for the sector nor to a greater priority given to it.

Table 7 below shows that when public spending on education is contrasted to either GDP or Government budget, the case of education appears more contrast:

Table 7: Share of education budget in GDP and in Government budget (1993-98) (million Kips)

 

1993-94

1994-95

1995-96

1996-97

1997-98

Education budget

Recurrent

Capital

Domestic

International

24,363

15,449

8,014

2,791

6,123

49,019

26,220

22,799

4,621

18,178

46,559

27,745

18,814

4,832

13,982

64,353

35,505

28,848

6,425

22,423

72,140

40,220

31,920

6,670

25,250

GDP

1061,000

1200,000

1450,000

2,086,700

3,400,000

Government budget

Recurrent

Capital

252,270

130,340

121,930

351,821

162,589

189,232

363,742

175,242

188,500

407,860

199,740

208,120

541,340

250,840

290,500

% Education in GDP

Total Budget

Domestic Budget

Recurrent Budget

 

2.30

1.72

1.46

 

4.08

2.57

2.19

 

3.21

2.25

1.91

 

3.08

2.01

1.70

 

2.12

1.38

1.18

% Education in Gov’t Budget

Total budget

Recurrent budget

Capital budget

 

9.7

11.8

6.6

 

13.9

16.1

12.0

 

12.8

15.8

10.0

 

15.8

17.8

13.9

 

13.33

16.03

10.99

Source: MOE 1999

By reference with GDP, public domestic spending on education represents only 1.38 percent (1997-98); this figure is the lowest of the five years under observation with clearly negative trend over the last four budgetary years (from 2.57 to 1.38 percent of GDP).

Focusing on the budget for recurrent expenditure, the picture is basically the same. The figures for public spending on education as a share of GDP are not only declining over time (from 2.19 to 1.18 percent of GDP), they appear also to be particularly low (countries at a similar levels of per capita GDP allocate on average about 2.6 percent of their resources for the operation of their system of education against only 1.18 percent for Lao PDR)

As a whole, spending on capital appears to be specifically high, as capital expenditure make about 53.7 percent of total education budget in 1997-98.

Public Recurrent Expenditure by Level and Types of Education, 1997-1998The analysis of public expenditures shows that a large proportion of budgetary resources is devoted to primary and lower secondary education. This is not surprising, given that the majority of students do not advance beyond the lower secondary level. Table 8 shows the share of spending at the different levels of education, including a category for scholarships and for the payment of central administration costs. Table 3.7 also estimates the average subsidy per student at the different levels, according to the enrollment rate

Table 8: Public Recurrent Expenditures on Education, 1997-98


Description
Pre-school
Primary
Lower Secondary Upper Secondary Technical Vocational Teachers Training
University
Scholarships
Admin.
% of Recurrent Expenditure

3.5%

44.8%

16.1%

9.6%

2.0%

3.0%

7.4%

6.6%

7.1%

Enrollments

38,434

821,546

150,195

57,303

71,14

5,664

6,923

NA

NA

% Ethnic minorities

1.5%

26.8%

12.4%

6.6%

NA

NA

NA

NA

NA

Subsidy per student

K. 36,452

K. 21,927

K. 42,991

K. 67,536

K. 110,908

K. 214,689

K. 430,738

NA

NA

Primary Student equivalent

1.7

1.0

2.0

3.1

5.1

9.8

19.6

NA

NA

Source: MOE 1999

The overall subsidy per student increases significantly with higher education levels (with the exception of pre-school level), but due to larger enrollment, recurrent expenditures are mainly allocated to primary and lower secondary education. The total shares of primary and lower secondary in total recurrent expenditures are 44.8% and 16.1%, respectively.

The total subsidy per student was determined from recurrent spending and enrollments by educational level. Subsidies per student increase with educational levels. The lowest subsidy per student is the primary student at 21,927 Kips, while the highest is for the Tertiary level education at 430,738 Kips. This means that one student in tertiary education equates to about 20 students in primary school. Clearly a large amount of resources go to a relatively small number of students, at the higher levels. This is almost certainly regressive, considering that university students are most likely to come from cities and that they have a much greater earning potential in the labor market. The actual allocation of subsidies to the different population groups depends on a combination of demand factors and supply factors. On the supply side, government allocates resources to each of the different education sub-sectors (primary school, secondary schools, and so on). The students who enroll in the various institutions represent the demand side of the equation.

The equity issues are analyzed using the data provided by the MOE on government subsidies in education and allocating them to the different population groups according to the enrollment at different levels of education. The assignment of funds to student is not likely to be uniform—some students receive more per capita than others in the same school level, due to the size of their school, the level of education of their teachers, and many other factors.

Using an assumption that ethnic minorities account for 6.6% of the enrollment in teacher training colleges and technical vocational schools and that 2.5% of university students are ethnic minorities, it is possible to estimate the share of resources for ethnic minority students. It appears that 17.6% of recurrent funds for education (preschool to the university level) are dedicated to ethnic minority students.

Although this type of exercise is instructive, it is still far from perfect due to the large number of assumptions. However it does suggest that there is a serious discrepancy in spending on ethnic minority students. A large part of this discrepancy is due to the difference in the enrollment rates at the higher levels of education.

The shares of government recurrent expenditures on education allocated to different provinces are notably different.

Public Investment in Education

The government investment in education for 1998-99 highlights the government’s policy and commitment to focus on provinces with large ethnic populations (Figure 3).

The greatest allocation of the government’s investment in education in Vientiane Province, Savannakhet, Oudomxay, and Xiengkhuang is explained that these provinces represent regional centers for higher-level education for Teacher Training Colleges and Technical/Vocational Training Centers. Students from nearby provinces need to migrate in order to obtain most of the post-upper secondary education and training. Provinces with large ethnic populations (Phongsaly, Luangnamtha, Oudomxay, Bokeo, Saravan, Sekong and Xaysomboon) have been given priority. The government investment for 1998-99 is significantly larger than the 1997-98 budget.

6.2.1.2 Core Indicator 3: Apparent (Gross) Intake Rate in Primary Education

The Apparent Intake Rate (AIR) for Laos is 125.3, with the rate for males (133) being considerably higher than that for females (117.4). The distribution of AIR across provinces is shown in Table 1.1 below.

Table 9: Apparent Intake Rate by Province and Gender for 1997/98 in Primary Education

It is evident from Table 1.1 that there is a very large variation in AIR between provinces, ranging from a low of 97.7 in Saravane to high of 150.2 in Attapeu and 150.9 in Phongsaly Low AIRs tend to be associated with provinces with comparatively large school age entrance populations and high AIRs with provinces with smaller school age entrance populations. This relationship is illustrated in figure 1.1 below. It will be notice that the negative correlation between AIR and school entrance age population holds for the majority of provinces. There are, however, some provinces where this relationship is exhibited in a most extreme from and others where the opposite relationship holds. Saysomboune and Attapeu had high AIRS of 140 and 150 and very small school age enrolment populations of 2080 and 2831 children, respectively, while Saravane had a very low AIR of 97.7 and a very high school age enrolment population of 9000.

The majority of the population in Saysomboune are Hmong (53.7%) and Khmu (16.7%). Though the Lao are the majority (60%) in Saravane, there are 3 main Austroasiatic ethnic minority population districts such as Samuai, Ta Oy, Toum Lan which composed the other 40%. In these areas where high ethnic minority population, still face problems in education. Poverty is one of the main obstacles

Figure 4 : Relationship between School Age Entrance Population and Apparent Intake Rate for 1997-1998.

The gender party index of 0.9 for the country as a whole suggests that considerable progress has been made in encouraging families to enroll their female children in primary school. The index varies from 0.6 to 1.0 across provinces with the lower figure usually associated with higher AIRs, suggesting that a larger proportion of the over-aged enrolments are those of boys.

6.2.1.3 Core Indicator 4: Net Intake Rate in Primary Education

The Net Intake Rate (NIR) to primary school for 1997-1998 was 54 for the country as a whole. This should be compared with the AIR for Laos for the same school year of 125.3. Considered together, these indicators point to very high levels of under-and/or over-aged coupled with large numbers of children of school entrance age who are not being enrolled. Clearly, this situation poses not only immediate problems of out-of-school children but ensures that over-aged enrolment will continue for some years. The distribution of NIR across provinces is shown in Table 13 below.

Table 10: Net Intake Rate in Primary Education.

 

NIRs vary from a high of 92.5 in Vientiane Municipality to a low of 23.7 in Phongsaly and 21.6 in Sekong. The relationship between NIR and school entrance age population in not as clear as was the case of population and AIR, although in general the larger the school entrance age population the larger the NIR – see figure 1.2 below. As , in general, the provinces with the smaller school entrance aged population are those that are more remote this suggests that children living in more remote areas are less likely to enroll in primary school at an appropriate age than those living less remote situations. This may be due to a variety of factors ranging from regionally expressed culture preferences to insufficient supply of pupil places. Until imbalance in NIR is rectified it will provide a severe impediment to achieving EFA goals

Figure 5: Relationship between NIR and School Age Entrance Population.

It is noteworthy that the NIR gender parity index for Laos is 1.0 and that in 11 out of 18 provinces the index is 1.0 or greater. This contrasts starkly with the AIR gender parity index distribution where in only 4 out of 18 provinces is the index 1.0, and in no province is it greater than 1.0. This suggests that there is little bias against girls starting school at the appropriate age but if they do not start school at that age then, compared with boys, there is a reduced probability that they will enroll at a later age. This, too, provides an impediment to achieving EFA goals.

The relationship between AIR and NIR is illustrated in the scattergram in Figure 1.3 below. It is clear that there is a general tendency for high AIRs to be associated with low NIRs. This may indicate that in some provinces grade 1 pupil places may be occupied by over-age pupils at the expense of pupils of the school entrance age. In provinces with high ethnic minority population such as Attapeu the AIR is 150.2 and the NIR is 28.6. There is such large disparities becuase children do not enroll in Grade 1 at the age of 6 but at 7 years or older. One reason is that some of the teachers prefer to accept children at age 7 rather than at age 6 for the reason that they are more matured and more ready. Another situation is that if the teacher is also teaching a multi-grade class then she/he will likely not to accept children age 6. This situation is common among ethnic minority areas. Once this choice was made, then it falls into the loop. As statistics have shown that the highest repetition rate in the primary school is in Grade 1. This is the same situation in ethnic minority schools. The children will only be familiarized with the Lao language for the first year and will then repeat Grade 1 for the second year to relearn.

Figure 6: Relationship between AIR and NIR

6.2.1.4 Core Indicator 5: Gross Enrolment Ratio for Primary Education

The Gross Enrolment Ratio for Laos for 1997-1998 was 114.3 for males and females, 124.8 for males and 103.4 for females, representing a gender parity index of 0.8. The gross enrolment rate target set for year 2000 was 116.7. Clearly, if a high proportion of grade 1 enrollees in 1997-1998 survive until grade 5 and current AIR, NIR and repetition rates remain constant the GER will rise substantially over the next five years. The distribution of GER across provinces is given in Table 14 below.

Table 11 Gross Enrolment Ratio by Province and Sex for 1997/98 in Primary Education

It is evident from Table 1.3 that there is very wide disparity between provinces in GER, ranging from a low of 88.5 in Saravane to a high of 138.5 in Vientiane Province. Although there is a general tendency for high GERs to be associated with high school age population levels. This is illustrated in Figure 1.4 below which shows a number of provinces with high GERs but low population levels and, conversely, a number of provinces with low GERs and high population levels. Obviously, there are factors other than population levels that contributed to GER.

Figure 7: Relationship between Total GER and Official school Age Population.

6.2.1.5 Core Indicator 6: Net Enrolment Ratio for Primary Education

The Net Enrolment Ratio (NER) for primary education for Laos in 1997-1998 was 76.2 for males and females, 79.8 for males and 72.4 for females, representing a gender parity index for 0.9. This should be compared with a NER target of 80 and a gender parity index target of 1.0 set in 1990. The NER of 76.2 should be interpreted in the context of a GER of 114.3, and AIR of 125.3 and a NIR of 54. provided that current survival rates in primary education remain constant, it is clear that the present high incidence of over age enrolment coupled with a comparatively low incidence of children commencing school at the official school entrance age will ensure that there will continue to be strong demand for new pupil places at all grade levels in the coming decade. The distribution of NER across provinces is given in Table 14 below.

Table 12: Net Enrolment Ratio by Province and Sex for 1997-1998

There is a wide disparity in NER across provinces with ratios varying from a low of 44.5 in Sekong to a high of 99.8 in Vientiane Municipality . There is a tendency for higher NERs to be associated with higher population levels but, as with GER and population levels. This is illustrated in Figure 1.5 below which shows that there are provinces such as Savannakhet which have large school aged populations but low NERs, and others such as Sayasomboune with low population levels and high NERs.

Figure 8: Relationship between NER and Official school Age population

Figure 9: Relationship between Total GER and Total NER

Provinces with high ethnic population appear to have problems. Therefore, ethnic minorities do indeed appear to have problems with access in the education sector. This is the case both in the overall education level by ethnic group and in enrollment in the school system. In both cases, women and girls appear to be at a particular disadvantage.

In comparing the NER in 1991-92 (58%) with the 1997-98 NER (76.2%), the primary school attendance for 1997-98 has improved. The NER has increased by 18.2% in the last 7 years.

There has been some improvement overall, but the majority of children in provinces where more than 80% of the population are ethnic minorities are not enrolled in primary school. Worst of all are children in Sekong—55.5% of school age children are not enrolled, 53.4% of the boys and 57.7% of the girls. This is followed by children from the provinces of Oudomxay (48.1%), Phongsaly (44.6%), Attapeu (44.3%), Luangnamtha (43.9%), and Saravane (40.8%). Though a percentage of school age children are not enrolled in schooll, but there is an important advancement for these provinces. For example, in 1989, the NER for the three provinces with the lowest enrollment were 6% for Sekong, 29% for Phongsaly, and 27% for Luangnamtha (MOE 1990).

There are still significant disparities between boys and girls in primary school enrollment. The result of the 1997/98 NER shows that the disparity gap between boys and girls has narrowed. Nationally it is 7.4%, but in many provinces with large ethnic populations, the gap is wider.

Table 13 : shows the differences between NER and GER, and AIR and NIR across the provinces.Gender differences in primary school are more prevalent in provinces with a high ethnic minority population. For example, in Phongsaly, males have a 114.7% GER compared with a 76.2% GER for females. In provinces where there is a high Lao-speaking population, the GER is more equal. Vientiane Municipality has a female GER of 128.5%, compared to 135.8% for boys, and for Champassak, the rates are 129% for males and 114.6% for females.

The Northern Region has the highest percentage of unenrolled primary school age population (32.1%) totaling 77989 children. 37.7% of the girls and 26.7 of the boys. Of those unenrolled children 57.7% are girls. In high ethnic population provinces, that is, Oudomxay, Phongsaly, Luangnamtha, more than half of the girls do not enroll primary school (56.7%, 52.6%, 48.1%).

In the Central Region, Saysomboune, though it has very high AIR and GER, 75% of the unenrolled children are girls. There are indications that this province needs to motivate their parents to send their girls to school and a thorough study should be undertaken to find out why ethnic minority girls do not go to school. It will be a severe impediment to achieving EFA goals.

Table 13: Unenrolled Primary School Age Population 1997-98

 

Age-grade matching shows the reasons for the high GER.. It is suggested that late entry, repetition, and late completion are widespread. A large proportion of children entering primary school are older than 10 years of age, and the average age for primary school completion is around 14 years. In recent years, this situation may have improved, but it is still serious in provinces with high ethnic minority populations.

According to the Lao Expenditure and Consumption Survey (LECS), in 1992-93, 54% of total primary school enrollment were children of primary school age, that is, 6-10 years old, while 40% are 11-14 years old and 6% are 15-18 years old. Age-grade mismatching is negatively correlated with income, suggesting that the poor encounter costly obstacles to sending their children to school on schedule and are delaying the decision until such costs abate or until the benefits of educating their children are higher.

Table 14 reports on late school entry into primary school, based on data from the 1997-98 school year.

Late entry to primary school shows disparities across provinces, although the situation has improved in the past few years. Of the students entering first grade at the national level in 1997-98, 6.2% were children age 11 and older. In the 1991-92 school year, from the MOE Report, the rate was 19%. For 1991-92, the figure in Phongsaly was 45%, much higher than the figure in the 1997-98 report, which was only 9.4%.

Table 14: Late Enrollment in the Primary School System (Age of Student at Time of Enrollment in First Grade)

Age 6

Age 7

Age 8

Age 9

Age 10

Age 11+

Total

Total

Female

Total

Female

Total

Female

Total

Female

Total

Female

Total

Female

Total

Female

Vientiane Municipality

13,018

6,676

3,182

1,444

914

403

316

128

133

59

117

45

17,680

8,755

Phongsaly

1,175

495

1,881

811

1,455

551

1,091

434

791

254

1,075

298

7,468

2,843

Luangnamtha

1,308

652

971

442

645

304

436

204

385

165

754

254

4,499

2,021

Oudomxay

2,126

948

2,221

908

1,732

683

1,178

503

997

412

1,563

620

9,817

4,074

Bokeo

2,161

1,028

1,026

507

627

275

419

187

343

159

550

218

5,126

2,374

Luangprabang

5,529

2,543

3,836

1,826

2,499

1,149

1,604

769

1,150

525

1,531

638

16,149

7,450

Huaphanh

2,329

1,133

3,559

1,564

2,631

1,113

1,315

549

709

309

519

200

11,062

4,868

Xayaboury

6,806

3,290

2,622

1,263

1,016

445

496

258

259

122

217

94

11,416

5,472

Xiengkhuang

4,346

2,073

2,621

1,176

1,288

564

698

323

533

249

697

283

10,183

4,668

Vientiane Province

8,075

3,933

2,048

1,039

744

378

287

144

164

73

113

44

11,431

5,611

Borikhamxay

3,520

1,706

1,685

814

934

455

543

242

434

186

493

183

7,609

3,586

Khammuane

4,826

2,360

3,128

1,469

1,685

785

829

378

482

210

426

184

11,376

5,386

Savannakhet

8,138

3,946

7,982

3,803

4,008

1,805

1,791

714

891

347

848

271

23,658

10,886

Saravane

3,558

1,658

2,282

1,122

1,199

575

617

272

475

220

661

269

8,792

4,116

Sekong

466

208

522

211

488

224

423

210

353

189

777

338

3,029

1,380

Champasack

10,731

5,303

5,316

2,484

2,211

1,083

894

387

425

216

272

108

19,849

9,581

Attapeu

810

395

988

456

706

335

487

197

468

230

792

362

4,251

1,975

Xaysomboon

1,359

610

873

367

335

144

175

89

107

57

64

39

2,913

1,306

Total:

80,281

38,957

46,743

21,706

25,117

11,271

13,599

5,988

9,099

3,982

11,469

4,448

186,308

86,352

%

43.09%

20.91%

25.09%

11.65%

13.48%

6.05%

7.30%

3.21%

4.88%

2.14%

6.16%

2.39%

100.00%

46.35%

Source: MOE Annual Bulletin 1997-1998

6.2.1.6 Core Indicator 11: Pupil-teacher ratios in primary education.

The Supply of Schools and Teachers

Education obviously requires teachers and physical inputs, such as schools and teaching material. The distribution of these human and non-human resources greatly affects the access that students have to education throughout the nation. In addition, the quantity and types of resources available affect the overall quality of the school for the student. Overall statistics nationally and by province have shown reasonable pupil-teacher ratios as shown in Table 15. The pupil-teacher ratio at national level is 30:1. The target that has been set for EFA is 33:1 by the year 2000. It seems likely that the target will be achieved, but further analysis of the school data at district and village level, there are great imbalance in pupil-teacher ratios across districts and schools of urban and rural areas.

Table 15 :Pupil-Teacher Ratios by province (1997-98)

 

Province Name

Pupil-teacher ratios

Vientiane Municipality

34

Phongsaly

30

Luangnamtha

29

Oudomxay

34

Bokeo

35

Luangprabang

32

Huaphanh

30

Xayaboury

32

Xiengkhouang

33

Vientiane Province

30

Borikhamxay

35

Khammuane

30

Savannakhet

28

Saravane

37

Sekong

33

Champasack

29

Attapeu

30

Xaysomboon Special Reg.

30

Total whole country

31

Schools

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