6 Achieve universal primary education

Where we are

Photo: UNDP Lao PDR/Philippe Pernet

Lao PDR has made steady progress in the education sector, and has nearly achieved the national target of 98% net enrolment ratio for both girls and boys. Despite the positive change, the country still remains off the pace if it is to achieve education targets by 2015. Survival rate has improved from 48% in 1992 to 70% in 2012, but is still low in comparison to neighboring countries and well off the 2015 target. The gross enrolment ratio has increased by 26 percentage points to 46% since the early 1990s, but this rate of increase is still too slow to see the Lao PDR graduate from LDC status [link to Equitable and Sustainable Development header] by 2020. In addition, financing is still a problem, with much of education funding coming from external sources. While significant progress has been made to achieve universal primary education, the low retention of students means the Lao PDR risks not achieving its 2015 targets.

Meeting the targets

Raising school enrolment and literacy rates are usually the first policy interventions of any government. While progress on both these indicators has been satisfactory so far in Lao PDR, reaching the last 15 to 20 percent of the population is always hard and will require additional efforts and resources. It also is important to ensure that the Government's push toward attaining the MDG enrolment and literacy targets benefits all people, regardless of geographic location, gender or wealth.

Effective public expenditure management reform is required to allocate adequate resources and infrastructure across provinces to allow all pupils to complete primary and lower secondary education; improve the quality of education and curriculum; and develop a pool of trained teachers. This will contribute to building the nation's human resource capacity and extending educational opportunities to all. Improvement in enrolment rates also should be combined with improvement in teacher training to ensure modern methods of teaching sciences, languages and technology.

Targets for MDG2
  1. Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
    • Net enrolment ratio in primary education
    • Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
    • Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds, women and men