Laos, officially known as the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia. The country has made significant strides in improving its educational system over the past few decades. However, it’s important for expats to understand the structure and nuances of the Lao educational system to ensure a smooth transition for their children. This guide provides an overview of the main stages of education in Laos, the enrollment process for newcomers, language requirements, public bilingual schools, common types of private schools, and the options for homeschooling and online schooling.
What are the main stages of education in Laos?
The Lao educational system is divided into four main stages: preschool, primary school, lower secondary school, and upper secondary school. Preschool is optional and caters to children aged 3 to 5. Primary school, also known as elementary school, is for children aged 6 to 10. Lower secondary school is for students aged 11 to 14, while upper secondary school caters to students aged 15 to 17. Each stage focuses on different areas of learning, with a gradual increase in complexity and depth of subjects.
Preschool education in Laos is not compulsory and caters to children aged 3 to 5. It focuses on basic social skills, language development, and early numeracy skills. The curriculum is designed to prepare children for primary school.
Primary School Education
Primary school education in Laos is compulsory and lasts for five years, catering to children aged 6 to 10. The curriculum includes subjects like Lao language, mathematics, world around us, arts, and physical education. The aim is to provide a solid foundation for further education.
Lower Secondary School Education
Lower secondary school in Laos lasts for four years and is for students aged 11 to 14. The curriculum expands to include subjects like science, social studies, English, and vocational education. The focus is on providing a broad-based education.
Upper Secondary School Education
Upper secondary school in Laos lasts for three years and caters to students aged 15 to 17. Students can choose between general education or vocational training. The curriculum is more specialized and prepares students for higher education or employment.
How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?
Newcomers can enroll their children in Lao schools by visiting the local school or education office with the necessary documents, which typically include the child’s birth certificate, passport, and previous school records. It’s advisable to contact the school or education office beforehand to confirm the requirements.
My children are still learning Lao, can they enroll in a public school?
Yes, children who are still learning Lao can enroll in public schools. However, they may face challenges as the medium of instruction in most public schools is Lao. Some schools offer additional language support for non-native speakers.
Are there public bilingual schools?
Yes, there are a few public bilingual schools in Laos, particularly in urban areas like Vientiane. These schools offer instruction in both Lao and English or French. Admission for international students typically involves an application process and possibly an entrance exam.
What types of private schools are common in Laos?
Private schools in Laos include international schools, bilingual schools, and religious schools. International schools follow international curriculums like the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the British curriculum. Bilingual schools offer instruction in both Lao and a foreign language, usually English or French. Religious schools, primarily Buddhist, also exist but are less common.
Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?
Expats in Laos typically send their children to private schools, particularly international schools, due to the language barrier in public schools and the high standard of education in private institutions.
How expensive are Private schools in Laos?
Private school fees in Laos can vary widely, depending on the school and the level of education. International schools are generally the most expensive, with annual fees ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 USD.
Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Laos?
While homeschooling is not common in Laos, there are no specific laws prohibiting it. However, it’s advisable to check with the local education authorities to ensure compliance with any educational requirements.
May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Laos?
Yes, children can attend online schools while living in Laos. This can be a good option for families who are only in the country for a short period, or for those who prefer a different curriculum. However, it’s important to ensure that the online school is accredited and that the child has a suitable learning environment at home.