Education in Laos
There are still many illiterate people in Laos. The literacy rate is 69 percent, that is, only 69 out of 100 people can read and write. More men than women can read and write. This is because girls in Laos go to school less often than boys. However, these figures relate to the total population. Among the younger people aged 15 to 40, some can write and read more.
The differences between people in the city and Laotians who live in mountains or in the lowlands of the country are huge. In the mountain regions you often live very isolated and have little contact with the outside world. There are almost no schools, no hospitals, and the diet is often poor. Many Laotians often lead a life here like 100 years ago.
The Laotian school system
As the country was devastated by the war for many years, the children suffered too, as there was no school system in the country. This has now improved and 83 out of 100 children go to school. At the age of six, Laotian children go to primary school, which they have to attend for five years. This is followed by a lower school for four years and an upper school for three years. But there are still far too few such secondary schools in Laos. The government is working to achieve at least universal primary education for children. Schooling is also compulsory and a large number of the children go to school.
Bad equipment in schools
The official compulsory schooling is eight years. But the differences between children who live in the country and children in the city are still huge. Schools in rural areas are often poorly equipped. The school books are missing and there are no teachers at all or they are poorly trained. Sometimes the simplest things like pens or exercise books are missing. Often there are no toilets and no drinking water. Many children do not go to school at all, but a third finish at least five years of primary school.
Discrimination against girls
Most disadvantaged in Laos, a country located in Asia according to elaineqho, are girls who belong to tribes that are oppressed in Laos and have fewer rights. So the problem is often that the children only speak the dialect, their village or region and not Lao. This is the main language in Laos. It is much more difficult for them to be able to follow the lessons in school at all. Imagine going to school but not being able to speak the language that is being taught. So you will learn much worse than the others. And even if the children learn something, girls in Laos – more than boys – have to help with the household. Often they are married off early by their parents. It is forbidden for girls under the age of 18 to marry, but who should control that in a country where many children are not even registered in a register when they are born?
Almost three million children live in Laos and many children are in poor health. Half of the children under the age of five do not get enough to eat and are therefore malnourished. Eleven out of 100 children between the ages of five and 14 have to work. Many families live in poverty. Sometimes parents also leave their children to move to neighboring countries like Thailand and find work there. The children often stay with relatives, in the worst case they stay behind alone. So they don’t go to school, beg, steal and sell what they can find on the streets.
Illnesses and a life on the street
There is often a lack of clean drinking water, especially in rural areas, and only 50 out of 100 people have access to it. In the larger cities, which are not that big in Laos, the situation is a little better. Many infants die as young children, from diseases or because they do not get enough to eat. In Laos, the children who live in the mountain regions suffer particularly. These are often sealed off. But when these children come to town, they have problems here again because they usually don’t speak the language, only speak their own dialect and cannot find work without a good education. So they end up on the street again.
There are still bombs lying around in Laos. They are just lying somewhere in the forest or at the edge of the road, where exactly nobody knows exactly. One of the twelve to 70 million cluster bombs can be encountered at any time, bombs that did not detonate when dropped. Sometimes it is broken and does not ignite, sometimes it does ignite when someone touches it. And that’s still happening in Laos today. It is not uncommon for this to happen to children. They lose an arm or a leg and in the worst case scenario they may not survive the explosion.
Where do the cluster bombs come from?
The cluster bombs were dropped on Laos during the war against Vietnam (see also History and Politics). A cluster bomb contains a lot of small bombs or explosive devices, which explode after the impact on the ground or just do not explode. If they don’t explode, they still contain ammunition. Therefore, even after many years, they are still very dangerous.