Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Landlocked in south-eastern Asia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) was a French colony from 1893 to 1953, until a power struggle between rival factions eventually led to the overthrow of the country’s monarchy in 1975 by communist forces. The period that ensued heralded years of isolation in Lao PDR, which only began to relent with the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. At that time, the country started to open its doors to the outside world and introduce economic reforms. However, Laos is still in relative economic straits and dependant on foreign aid. The majority of Laotians live in rural locales, with approximately 80 per cent of the country’s people working in agriculture. The Lao Government aspires to utilise its capacity to generate hydroelectric power to become the “battery” of the region and its primary source of revenue by 2025.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Main Barriers to Education

  • Poverty
  • Lack of learning materials
  • Shortage of competent teachers

Interventions to Barriers

  • Mobile teachers & village teaching assistants
  • Provision of learning materials
  • Teacher training

In recognition of primary education’s central importance to the realisation of the country’s development agenda, the Government has entered into formal partnership with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and elaborated reform initiatives, particularly the Education Sector Development Plan for 2011-2015, as well as the subsequent Plan for 2016-2020. The current education sector development plan focusses on, amongst other things, the eradication of illiteracy across all ethnic groups, improving quality, expanding education policy research, and strengthening secondary education, technical and vocational education and training.

To that end, the Government has made substantial progress with respect to increasing access to primary education. For instance, Lao PDR has achieved 98.6 per cent primary net enrolment and near gender parity at the primary level. However, the country’s education sector is not without its share of outstanding challenges. As it happens, there remains an elevated class 1 dropout rate. Also, the country’s OOSC prevalence has gradually crept upwards since an historic low achieved in 2013.

In an attempt to consolidate the gains of the education sector and address the remaining issues, EAC and UNESCO have partnered to increase education access to some of Lao PDR’s most vulnerable OOSC. Through the Strengthening Education System for OOSC project, UNESCO will seek to enhance the institutional capacity of education systems and create a supportive atmosphere for OOSC via sustainable and consistent programme delivery. Specific project interventions include: implementation of flexible-learning programmes equivalent to formal education; providing capacity building training programmes for formal school teachers; and developing literacy and numeracy programmes for OOSC.

Geographic Location: South-eastern Asia

Languages: Lao (official), English, French, various ethnic languages


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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.