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NA member voices concern over school dropout rate

National Assembly members have expressed concern over increasing school dropout rates and the shortage of teachers both in Vientiane and rural areas.
Representing the Vientiane constituency, Mrs Kethmany Yandasack called on the government to urgently solve the problem when the matter came up for debate this week.
The dropout rate in the city’s secondary schools has doubled, she said, with the main reason being the increasing financial hardship suffered by many families, who can no longer afford to pay school fees.
Many secondary school students have given up their studies to seek work so they can earn money to help support their families as household budgets become increasingly stretched.
In Vientiane, schools have seen an average of at least 150 students dropping out.
Schools are also suffering from a shortage of teachers, with many leaving to enter other professions or to retire, and many schools in Vientiane have reached a crisis point.
Mrs Kethmany asked the government to resolve this problem, saying that standards of education are falling as a result.
She also asked the government to tackle the issue of volunteer teachers, saying that if more volunteer teachers resign it will exacerbate the teacher shortage in both the public and private sectors.
The government is expected to allocate 850 civil servant positions in 2024, although it is not known what the quota for the education sector will be.
Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone has suggested solutions to the problem of student dropouts by introducing three new policies.
Firstly, the government will provide school lunches funded by the state budget, assistance sources, and social contributions.
Secondly, students who have completed Grade 1 of secondary school and have stopped attending school can register for a vocational training course.
Thirdly, the business sector will be encouraged to contribute to the construction of vocational secondary schools.
In addition, education authorities will implement the decree on the provision of allowances and dormitories for poor and disadvantaged students.
Changes will be made to the national curriculum so that the content is appropriate and consistent with students’ needs and interests.
The government has recommended that tuition fees be waived for priority and need-based subjects, which has already been implemented in some subjects.
To promote vocational and higher education, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and businesses will play a greater role in training young people and providing them with practical job skills.
All sectors must cooperate to develop professional standards and create a dual cooperative education system, focusing on practical learning at factories.
The government is also seeking solutions to issues relating to volunteer teachers and the overall teacher shortage, and formulating special policies for teachers in rural areas.
Education authorities hope to increase the quota of allocated teachers to replace those who have retired, or replace them in other ways each year.
The government will also consider postponing retirement for teachers who are still healthy, experienced, and able to continue teaching.

By Times Reporters
 (Latest Update November 9, 2023)

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