Lao People’s Democratic Republic

The Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), otherwise known as Laos has achieved consistently high levels of economic growth over the last decade; this is due to natural resource development. Poverty is declining in this country because of governmental reforms currently underway. The World Bank states that a significant challenge for Laos will be to ensure that the wealth coming from the cultivation of natural resources is transformed into investments in education, infrastructure, health and services, particularly for the most impoverished.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Main barriers to education

  • Poverty
  • Infrastructure

Laos, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia with a population of just under 6.5 million and a sparse population density.   

“Lao People’s Democratic Republic, is classified as one of the poorest countries, poverty includes a lack of land and livestock ownership, limited access to credit, poor infrastructure, and inadequate delivery of such public services as health and education.” (UNICEF, 2011)

The government of Laos, one of the few remaining one-party communist states, it began decentralizing control and encouraging private enterprise in 1986, and in the years 2008-2013 the economy grew at a rate of 7% per year.

Despite such strong economic progress, infrastructure in this country remains underdeveloped and much of the population depends on rice production and other capital intensive natural resource exports such as the gathering of non-timber forest products, for their livelihood. 

Export of natural resources reduced poverty rates by 20% (from 46% to 26%) in the years between 1992 and 2010.

In Laos, basic education is defined as primary and lower secondary school, and is comprised of nine years of education. Although free, a lack of adequate infrastructure and qualified teachers pose an ongoing challenge to the education system in this country.



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Strengthening Education System for Out of School Children

The Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and East Timor continue to face challenges in reaching and educating out of school children (OOSC). The EAC-UNESCO Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Education Strengthening Education Systems for Out of School Children project seeks to enrol and retain 50,000 out of school children in quality primary education programs in the sub-region.



The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has partnered with EAC to work toward achieving Millennium Development Goal 2, ensuring universal primary education. As a strategic partner UNESCO works with EAC to advance the agenda of out of school children at an international level. In partnership with EAC, UNESCO also implements projects in ten countries to ensure that out of school children complete a full course of primary education.