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Table 21b: Status of the Formal Education by Ethnic Groups in Lao PDR, School Year 1997-1998

 

Level


Tai-Kadai


Austro-Asiatic

Hmong-Yao and Sino-Tibetan


National

Total

Female

Total

Female

Total

Female

Total*

Female*

Pre-school

Enrollment

34,638

17,988

1,092

592

1,807

960

38,434

19,979

Primary School Level

New entrants Grade 1

121,786

58,559

43,164

19,361

20,766

8,152

186,306

86,532

Enrollment

601,095

280,951

146,649

58,908

70,846

24,722

821,546

365,960

Repeaters

120,682

51,883

38,960

15,163

17,410

5,506

177,380

72,690

Graduated

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

79,001

34,270

Lower Secondary School

New entrants Grade 6

54,886

23,691

4,591

1,292

3,714

1,067

63,585

26,231

Enrollment

131,521

55,472

9,611

2,597

8,140

2,147

150,195

60,623

Repeaters

5,310

1,297

593

104

384

78

6,306

1,480

Graduated

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

30,772

12,779

Upper Secondary School

New entrants Grade 9

23,185

9,552

784

263

816

144

24,925

10,036

Enrollment

53,530

21,748

1,613

501

1,795

303

57,303

22,752

Repeaters

1.345

302

60

5

43

4

1,458

313

Graduated

N.A

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

12,093

4,769

Enrollment in pre-school is quite limited. It is likely that pre-school attendance is concentrated in the main urban areas. The enrollment is largely limited to the Lao-speaking population (approximately 90%). There do not appear to be important gender biases in pre-school enrollment.

For most children, primary school is the start of the formal education system. For new enrollees in first grade, there appears to be little sign of disadvantage for ethnic minority groups. New enrollment for the three ethnic groups is more or less in line with the proportions expected based on their population shares.

However, it appears that starting at first grade, girls face a disadvantage in terms of enrollment. While girls make up the expected approximately 50% of enrollment in the Tai-Kadai group, the proportion of girls is much lower for the other two groups. In provinces and districts of ethnic minority, girls have increasingly less access to primary school.

The relative equality among ethnic groups in first grade enrollment quickly disappears in the upper grades of primary school. Austro-Asiatic students account for less than 18% of the total enrollment, and Hmong-Yao and Sino-Tibetan only account for 8.6% of total enrollment. This is somewhat below the expected enrollment based on the population shares. Likewise the share of girls for these two groups is lower and girls seem to be dropping out more than boys are.

It is always difficult to interpret the effects of repetition on education achievement. While repetition is not good for the school system (generally indicating deficiencies with the student or more likely with the school), it is certainly better for a student to repeat a grade than to drop out of school completely. Thus repetition may actually be a good sign (a second best outcome). In the case of primary students in Lao PDR, repetition seems to be relatively well distributed among ethnic groups. However, the low number of girl repeaters from the Hmong-Yao and Sino-Tibetan group may be worrisome. Many of the girls may simply drop out rather than repeat a year.

There are no concrete figures on graduation by ethnic groups, but since only graduates can advance to lower secondary school, the information on new entrants in Secondary 1 is instructive. Approximately 45% of Tai-Kadai students who enter primary school (first grade) enter Secondary 1. While this figure is low, it is quite a bit higher for the other two groups. Only 10.6% of Austro-Asiatic and 17.8% of Hmong-Yao and Sino-Tibetan advance to Secondary 1. The situation for girls is even worse—among the Hmong-Yao and Sino-Tibetan, about a quarter of the total enrollment is female; repetition for girls is also lower than for boys. This suggests that girls with problems in school simply drop out.

Finally, in the upper secondary school level, an overwhelming number of students are Lowland Lao (approximately 93% are Tai-Kadai).

In summary, the evidence suggests that while in general all ethnic groups have school in the first grade, this "equality" quickly disappears. Even at the primary level, it appears difficult for ethnic minority children to stay in school. The problem is particularly worrisome for girls in the school system. Girls drop out of school with a much greater frequency than boys, particularly in ethnic minority communities.

6.3 Dimension 4: Reduction of Adult Illiteracy Rate

6.3.1 Adult Literacy

6.3.1.1 Core Indicator 16, 17 and 18- Literacy rates of population 15 years old and over, and Literacy Parity Index

The estimation by Unicef of the literacy rate in 1987 was 56%, and based on the population census1995 the literacy rate resulted 60.2%. The enumeration was just answering a very simple question without taking tests, and it should be considered as a fairly crude rate. If reading and writing tests were carried out then the rate would result lower. Although, the source of the two estimates is different and may not be compatible, the results show only a slight increase in literacy. Given the relatively young age structure of the population of the Lao PDR, it is likely that most of the increase in literacy is due to the increase in enrollment and does not reflect major gains in adult literacy programs.

The 1995 census permits a comparison of literacy rates by ethno-linguistic groups. Table 22 presents the male and female adult literacy rates for the largest ethnic groups, by linguistic group. The data focuses on the population that is at least 15 years old. Most of the population of Lao PDR leaves school well before the age of 15. The lowest literacy rate among the population groups is for females in the Hmong-Yao ethno-linguistic group, and the highest literacy rate is for males in the Lao-Phutai ethno-linguistic group.

Table 22: Literacy Rates by Gender and Ethnic Group

Language Group

Ethnic Group

Male Literacy Rate

Female Literacy Rate

Total Literacy Rate

LAO-PHUTAI

84.4%

62.3%

72.9%

Lao

86.0%

65.1%

75.2%

Phutai

77.2%

50.1%

63.0%

Leu

73.9%

46.6%

59.7%

Nhuane

71.2%

48.7%

59.4%

MON-KHMER

55.6%

19.9%

36.9%

Khmu

60.8%

22.7%

40.9%

Katang

49.3%

12.8%

30.3%

Makong

39.1%

12.3%

25.0%

Xuay

55.7%

20.5%

36.8%

Taoey

54.8%

20.3%

36.6%

Talieng

58.4%

25.0%

40.4%

Lavae

52.2%

18.7%

34.4%

Katu

43.0%

10.6%

26.2%

Lamed

49.0%

10.2%

28.0%

Thin

40.6%

20.0%

29.6%

Alack

54.6%

21.3%

37.1%

Oey

69.4%

34.2%

50.2%

Ngae

52.3%

15.6%

33.5%

Jeng

56.9%

19.9%

36.8%

Yae

45.9%

17.9%

30.8%

HMONG-YAO

45.7%

8.1%

26.5%

Hmong

45.7%

8.1%

26.5%

TIBETO-BURMAN

22.3%

12.0%

17.0%

Phounoy

58.8%

36.2%

46.8%

Musir

2.9%

0.4%

1.6%

Kor

7.0%

0.7%

3.8%

OTHERS

60.8%

32.9%

46.8%

Total

73.5%

47.9%

60.2%

Source: NSC Population Census 1995.

There are also disparities in the literacy rates among the population by districts across the country. The 1995 census shows that remote districts with a high proportion of ethnic minorities have remarkable low literacy rates, in particular the districts of Long, Mueng, Taoy, and Samuay; Figure 12 shows the literacy rate of major ethnic groups, while Figure 13 shows literacy by geographical area.

 

It is clear that there is a great deal of difference in terms of literacy by both ethnic group and gender. The members of the Lao ethnic group and other Lao-Phutai ethnicities have by far the highest the highest literacy.

Among the other ethnic groups, the literacy rates are substantially lower. Virtually none of the groups have total literacy rates over 50%, and all are well below the national average in overall literacy and in literacy by gender. In terms of overall literacy rates, the Hmong and Tibeto-Burman having one of the lowest total literacy rates.

Of particular interest and concern is the difference between the male and female literacy rates. For every ethnic group, the literacy rate for men is substantially higher than that for women. While for the members of the Lao-Phutai ethnic groups, the literacy rate for women is generally above 50% and not substantially lower for women than for men, the problem is far more serious in other groups.

Among the Mon-Khmer ethnic groups, men are, on average, three times more likely to be literate than women are. Unfortunately, any tendency toward equity tends to be on the lower end, with men having literacy rates well below the national average.

The difference is even greater among the highland peoples (primarily the Hmong). While the Hmong men have low literacy rates, they are not too different than that of many of the Mon-Khmer groups. Women, on the other hand, have literacy rates of less than10%, less than one-fifth of the male literacy rate.

The Kor and Musir, two highland peoples in the Tibeto-Burman language family, have especially low literacy rates. Virtually none of the women and very few men are literate.

The costs of literacy are quite severe. While the highland and midland peoples of Lao PDR may have little access to the non-subsistence labor market, education is still potentially a very valuable investment. This is equally true for men and for women.

Many studies have shown that women with more education have healthier children, with a greater possibility of survival and fewer health problems. More educated mothers also tend to have fewer children, investing more in the "quality" of their children. This is even true taking into account ("holding constant") other factors, such as income and the labor opportunities of the mother.

Families also benefit from fathers with greater education. Even in the case of subsistence farmers, education can make a positive contribution to the yields and the production of farms. Fathers can also complement their spouse’s education with respect to the child health and education.

Likewise, much as women can contribute to the success of a household enterprise, such as a farm, men can also contribute to the health and education of their children.

The Non-formal Education Activities Since 1990

Models and learning methods

In order to provide non-formal education linked to basic vocational skill training, the Department of Non-formal Education (DNFE) uses three models of learning:

Model 1: Provide Literacy courses only and afterward promote vocational skills training in order to improve the quality of life (implemented before 1992 ).

Model 2: Provide Literacy courses along with promotion of vocational skills in order to improve quality of life ( implemented since 1992 until now).

Model 3 : Provide basic vocational skills in order to improve the quality of life (implemented since 1996).

Model 2 is the most frequently used of the three above modules. Three learning methods are used to develop functional literacy:

1. Classroom instruction

2. Self Learning.

3. Distance learning.

Grade by grade learning is almost always organized in formal schools, temples or anywhere where there are appropriate conditions and teacher-volunteers. The DNFE encourages utilization of community education centers, vocational skills training centers and distance education centers as a place where learning and training can be organized. At present, there are 4 vocational training centers, 3 distance education centers, and 168 community education and vocational training centers nationwide. Along with literacy courses, the supplementary activities and basic vocational skills training are also organized. Revolving funds are provided for: the construction of houses, rattan handicrafts, food technology, plant-fibber handicrafts, bamboo handicrafts, production of sun drier boxes, building simple toilets, producing natural colors, sewing, weaving, growing chickens, fish, pigs, gardening, growing mushrooms, planting fruit trees, silk production, bamboo plaiting, tin smith work, barbering, carpentry, welding, basic health care, three hygiene, animal vaccination, gender roles, home medicine boxes, and rice bank, etc.

Curriculum and instructional material development

There are two kinds of curricula for the eradication of illiteracy and lifelong primary education. Reading and writing of Lao Language and math are taught through the following programme:

Curriculum of Basic Non-Formal Education

Level 1. (Eradication) 340 hours/ 45 units, to cover Health, Agriculture, Income generation and Citizenship, at the end of this level the learners will get the certificate of literacy

Level 2. (Grade 3) 180 hours/23 units, same topics, equivalent to grade 3

Level 3. (Grade 5) 120 hours/17 units, same topics, equivalent to grade 5

Curriculum of Basic Education and Vocational Skills Training for Ethnic Minority Women

Supplementary teaching-learning materials

In order to promote reading and prevent loss of newly gained literacy skills, other supplementary teaching and learning media have been developed: 30 supplementary readers, 18 cartoon books, 10 posters, 4 video cassettes about women education, drug addiction, health, agriculture, hygiene and Vocational Center for Minorities, etc.

Definition of Literacy:

  1. person is literate who:

Projects.

Since 1990, there have been a variety of non-formal education projects conducted in Lao PDR both locally and on a nationwide scale. These projects were supported by many agencies as shown in the chart below:

Table 23: NFE Projects since 1990

Project

Date

Amount (USD)

Supporting Agency

1. Upgrading Education Level and Vocational Training for Ethnic Minority 1996-2001 180,000 CWS
2. Non-Foraml Education for Women and Ethnic Minority 1994-1998 686,889 Ecole Sans Frontier
3. Basic Education and Vocational Training for Ethnic (Project-504/ Lao/11 1994-1998 892,150  

UNESCO, Paris

4. Distance of Non-Formal Education Development for Ethnic Minority 1996-2000 48,000 ZOA
5. Non-Formal Education for Ethnic Minority (Project Lao/92/010) 1993-1997 660,950 UNDP
6. Improvement Quality of Life for Youth ;and Adults 1992-1995

 

1995-2000

78,766

 

28,000

IDRC And Lanbach Literacy International
7. Basic Non-formal Education 1993-1997 250,000 UNICEF
8. Promotion of Non-formal Education 1997-1998 5,000 FHI
9. Basic Education and Vocational for Ethnic Women and Disadvantageous people 1993-1998 18,000 UNESCO PROAP
10. Integration of Population Education

 

1995-1998 8,000 UNFPA
11. Management of Illiteracy Eradication for Girl and Promotion of Income Generation

 

1997-1998 27,000 ESCAP
12. Project of Education for Community 1995-1999 271,515 WEI
13. Distance Basic Education in support of sustainable Rural Development

 

1997-2000 1,620,100 UNESCO/NORAD
14. Project of Providing Information and Mobilization of Parents Against Drug Abuse (Project DASN /92/38+39) 1994-1998 36,135 EU
15. Basic Vocational Training 1995- 2001 3,500,000 GTZ/BAFIS

 

16. Promotion of Reading (ACCT, ACCU)

 

1994-1998 12,000 France, UNESCO

Capital Investment for Non-formal Education

Government Sector

The Government has supplied budget for the printing of curriculum, textbooks, teacher’s guides, daily subsidy allowance for teacher-volunteers, training of administrators, monitoring. Co-supporting project funds amounted to 1,179, 64,7 430 kips

(K = approximately 7,000 – 4,000/USD) during the academic year 1995-96 to 1997-98.

International agencies and NGO

Eradication of illiteracy and lifelong primary education have attracted interests from international agencies who provide financial support for: technical assistance, training, construction of education community centers, DSA for volunteers, study visits, revolving funds, short-term and long -term education upgrading, printing of curriculum, textbooks, teacher’s guide, supplementary reading books, posters, newspapers, video production, and monitoring. The co-support budget amounted to US$ 7,914,777 from 1992 to 1997.

Non-formal Education Achievements.

Results of eradication of literacy and primary lifelong education programmes since 1992 to 1997 are as follow:

Instructional materials

Instructional materials for Non-formal Education were developed and printed and distributed as follows:

Problems and issues

1. Conditions for organization of non-formal education are limited:

in methods for adult teaching and learning

2. People are reluctant to learn due to:

Lessons learned

      1. Use of clear and detailed regulations, actions and management, with good labor division will enable DNFE to increase the effectiveness and success of programme.
      2. Personnel, who are aware of education policy guidelines in the new period and spirit of solidarity and unity, unanimously agreed to party policy guideline, will be able to create a good job environment and to do work with enthusiasm.
      3. Regular and consistent monitoring, control and advice will promote activate work process in the local areas.
      4. A sufficient supply of funds, transport and materials will give moral support to people who work in the field of NFE and help them accomplish their duties and reach their goals.

Recommendations.

To continue to allocate budget for support of DSA for teachers- volunteers, to revise the DSA guideline, and to implement them with the following objectives in mind:

7. Prospects-Policy Directions for the Future

In June 1999, the MOE has formulated two Education Development Plans for 2001-2005 and 2001-2020. In relation to Jomtien Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs the MOE has set the following targets and goals:

Dimension 1: Expansion of early childhood care and developmental activities, including family and community interventions, especially for poor, disadvantaged and disabled children.

Expansion of the early childhood education and increase the gross enrolment rate to at least 5% annually.

Strategies and plan of action

Expand pre-schools by promoting coordination between the government, community and the private sector. The government increases the establishment of more model pre-schools at the provincial and district level. Promote the private sector to establish these types of pre-schools.

Establish a special class in the primary schools to prepare children age 5 for Grade 1, particularly in ethnic minority areas.

Dimension 6: Increased acquisition by individuals and families of the knowledge, skills and values required for better living and sound and sustainable development.

Continue the cooperation with UNICEF in implementing the Early Childhood Development project with two sub-projects.

Through the media, to reach 85% of the parents in the country, especially those in remote areas, with usable information on good patenting, child health and nutrition, and family-based learning activities for children aged 0-5. Through parent education programmes, assist parents to raise young children who are physically and mentally prepared to enter school, and ready to learn, at age six.

Deliver cost-effective, village-based development programmes through the extension of the current project. In the context of the village development, assist villages to design and implement more integrated and comprehensive child development programmes. Increase the capacity of parents and caregivers.

Dimension 3: Improvement in learning achievement.

Improve and expand the primary education. Increase the net enrolment rate to 85% by the year 2005, and 92% by the year 2010. Reduce the repetition rate by 2% annually, and the dropout rate by 3% annually.

Continue to increase the pupil-teacher ratio to 33/1 by the year 2005.

Strategies and plan of action.

Enhancement of the Education law and the compulsory primary education law. Continue to expand primary schools in ethnic minority areas and rural remote areas. Reinforce the implementation of the decree on the salary increase for teachers who teach in ethnic minority areas and rural remote areas. Continue the organization of school clusters. Improve the quality of school supervision system. Continue the implementation of the progressive promotion policy and supervise closely the promotion process. Improve the ethnic minority boarding schools at all level. Organize multi-grade teaching in areas where the villages are small and distance.

Continue the implementation of the plan cooperation with UNICEF on Basic Primary Education project.

Upgrade at least 50% of all untrained teachers in the content areas of language and math and in child-centered learning environment. Improve the quality of training, teaching and classroom management within the schools and school clusters. Improve the supply and quality of new teachers in remote areas. Increase the supply of supplemental readers, teaching aids, and teacher activity guides, and media messages which match complement and promote the new curriculum for each grade of primary school and are gender-fair. Expand the supply and use of training resources for multi-grade teaching. Evaluate the effects on learning in the classroom that result from specific efforts to improve the quality of education. Increase the number of readers, teaching aids, and teacher activity guides which help teachers use a variety of teaching strategies to teach Lao to children speaking other languages. Help teachers and heads of schools incorporate and use the strategies for learning and health from the Early Childhood Development projects in the formal basic education programme, grades 1-5. Develop the capacity of school, cluster, and district office staff, in collaboration with parent-teacher associations and local community leaders, to localise curriculum materials.

Improve the capacity of heads of schools to supervise and manage schools, and develop school improvement plans, in such a way that enrolment is increased, wastage is decreased, and learning is enhanced, especially for girls. Improve the way heads of schools, teachers, and PTAs collect, understand and use gender disaggregated school data regarding enrolment, drop-outs, repetition and related indicators. Increase the participation and support of the community for education through the establishment of parent-teacher associations and the encouragement of their involvement in the design of school development plans. Improve the maintenance of school buildings. Increase the timely supply of textbooks and other instructional material to teachers and students and to recover these materials for reuse. Develop "health-promoting" schools by increasing the healthiness of the school environment and the health and nutrition of the school students. Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of school clusters.

Establish a system for delivery of basic education for children from geographically isolated ethnic and rural families so that 30% of those children with no access to school enroll in these classes; this may include distance education, self-instruction, and the use of para-professional teachers, and could be home-based or village based. Establish learning competencies in math language and life skills as the basis for basic education through non-formal approaches for ethnic minority and rural children and then to develop a competency-based (partly self-instruction) curriculum suitable to the children’s cultural and socio-economic conditions. Develop and publish a series of textbooks and workbooks for students in classes organized through non-formal approaches and a series of teacher manuals which are functional and usable by previously untrained teachers. Design and implement training for untrained personnel so that they can teach and monitor home-based or other non-formal approaches to basic education classes from manuals developed for these tasks. Mobilize the village development committee and the community at large to select teachers, set the timetable, find space for classes, and enroll and support children, especially girls, to attend basic education classes. Assess student achievement and cost effectiveness of the sub-project and evaluate this effort for national dissemination.

Continue the collaboration with AusAid and ADB in implementing the Basic (Girls’) Education project in 50 ethnic minority districts.

Dimension 4: Reduction of the adult illiteracy rate.

Dimension 5: Expansion of provision of basic education and training in other essential skills required by youth and adults.

Increase the literacy rate among the 15-40 aged group population to 85% by the year 2005 and 90% by the year 2010; and the population 15+ to 80% by the year 2005 and 85% by the year 2010. Continue to upgrade at least 30% of the literate to primary level.

Strategies and plan of action.

Continue the literacy programme for the target groups. Put special emphasis to disadvantaged population particularly in areas where there are no schools and low economic status that is ethnic minority areas and areas where there is low primary gross enrolment rate. Provide vocational training suitable for the target groups and those educationally disadvantaged particularly ethnic minority women to assist them to improve their livelihood. Provide essential skills training for adults and youth. Develop equivalency curriculum and supply learning materials and non-formal education textbooks qualitatively and quantitatively. Improve and expand the Community Learning Centers. Train adequate personnel for the non-formal education administration and supervision. Collect data on literacy rate for each target group and those interest groups for vocational training. Continue the collaborations and project co-operations with international organizations, UN agencies and NGOs.

8 Summary

8.1 Basic Education attainments:

Internal coefficient of education efficiency rose from 42.8 percent to 51.5 percent.

Overall achievement nationally, is quite satisfactory despite the problems and constraints that many provinces faces and needs to be addressed urgently. The target set in 1990 for NER of 80% will surely be achieved by the year 2000. As evidence, the NER for 1997-98 is already 76.2% and therefore may well exceed the set target. During the past 9 years, the government with the assistance of international organizations, UN agencies and NGOs, have put a lot of effort and investment in the basic education programme, particularly the school constructions and the supply of textbooks. Though they are inadequate, access to primary education has shown improvement.

The target set for the survival rate of 80% is far from achievement, despite the increase of the promotion rate and the decrease of repetition and drop out rate. But it is noticeable, that education quality does not yet meet the basic demands and more have to be done. In terms of the improvement of education quality depends very much on the quality of the training of teachers, the relevance of the curriculum and textbooks, and the teaching environment. The ability and competencies of the teaching force and curriculum development unit needs to be upgraded. Due to a shortage of trained teachers a large number of untrained teachers and contract teachers are employed. Therefore the quality of education is quite low. Progressive grade promotion enable to increase internal efficiency rate of primary education, but nevertheless it is still very low.

Investment in the non-formal education is still very low and mainly most of the projects are supported by international organizations mainly UNESCO, UNDP, GTZ and some NGOs. The target set for literacy rate was to achieve 80% for the 15-40 aged group population. Though there hasn’t been any proper assessment of literacy in the country, reports from the provinces have shown the literacy rate of 83.21% and 127,179 literate have received the primary education certificate through the equivalency programme during 1992-97.

In order to improve access to schools it is necessary to establish more school clusters, especially in mountainous and ethnic minority areas. Put special emphasis to provide ethnic minority girls and women basic education both in the formal and non-formal education system. Create educational opportunities for the disadvantaged groups and unemployed youth in the city, (children with disabilities, children in marginalized groups ). Put strong emphasis in the training, employment and placement of trained teachers. Provide special incentives for teachers who volunteered to teach in rural remote areas and places with special difficulties. Improve the network of the school supervision and management at all level. Trained provincial and district personnel in data collection to ensure the liability of the information reported to the EMIS

According to the evaluation (Phase 1, 1997 Evaluation), the results, efforts and actions for the improvement of education quality are not fully integrated. Thus, it is necessary to ensure the integration of the actions by all concerned actors to plan, stimulate and monitor the quality. It is imperative to improve the quality of the content of textbooks, the relevance of the curriculum, teacher education and the provision of teaching learning materials.

Although, the government budget and foreign assistance for education has increased during the early 90s quite significantly, it is still inadequate to respond to the actual needs. As a whole, spending on capital appears to be specially high, as capital expenditure make about 53.7 percent of total education budget in 1997-98. Public spending on education as share of GDP are not only declining over time, they appear to be particularly low (1.18%). The proposed solution in the Education Development Plan 2000-2020 is to increase the public spending as share of GDP to at least 3.6% and at least 18% of the government budget by the year 2020.

                                                                                                                                   END


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