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Educational system
After 1975 considerable efforts were made to extend elementary education to all ethnic groups and an adult literacy campaign was launched. The general education system in Laos comprises pre-school education (crèche and kindergarten), primary education (five years), lower secondary education (three years) and upper secondary education (three years). Although quantitative and qualitative progress in education has been made in recent years, a significant proportion of children, especially girls and children of ethnic groups in remote areas, are not provided with an equal opportunity to basic education.
Access to secondary and tertiary education is particularly limited and a significant proportion of the adult population is illiterate. Due to the young and growing population there is a great demand for education which is contrasted by an inadequate number of often insufficiently trained teachers. The quality of education available is currently inadequate to meet the demands.
The teachers' salaries of the state-owned schools have to be paid by the village communities, a burden which many communes cannot bear. Therefore, often several villages share one school which results in even bigger classes and a long way to school for the students. Most children in rural areas have to help their family on the fields and can thus only attend classes during the dry season, since in this time of the year there is not that much work on the fields.
As many parents did not get much education themselves, there is only limited awareness about the importance of education. The obligation to wear school uniforms is a problem for many families as they don't have the financial means to provide all of their children with uniforms and general school supplies. Students thus often drop out of school before graduating from secondary school.