Population and Society, Education
Lao Lum, National University of Laos, urban elite, modern education system, French rule
Education for the Lao Lum traditionally took place in the wat, where Buddhist monks taught boys the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion. Other ethnic groups did not have traditions of formal education. Under French rule, from 1893 to 1953, education was limited to an urban elite. From 1953 to 1975, the royal Lao government developed a modern education system with a Lao curriculum, but even so it catered to only about one-third of the school-age population. When the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party came to power in 1975, it placed great emphasis on education, especially on eradication of illiteracy. It had few resources, however, and standards fell.
By 2001, the literacy rate stood at 71.9 percent. Almost all Lao Lum children of school age attend primary school for six years, and 33.4 percent continue on to secondary school for an additional six years. The school attendance rates for Lao Thoeng and Lao Sung children are considerably lower, however, and the goal of universal education is still some way off.
Laos has one university, the National University of Laos (1997), located in Vientiane. Regional technical colleges are located in Louangphrabang, Savannakhet, and Pakxe.
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