Education in Lao PDR

The government of Lao PDR recognizes education’s importance in achieving national development goals. The country relies heavily on external funding; however, it has shown improvements in recent years. According to government figures, in 2013/14, the education share of the government budget was 15.5%, up from 13.4% in 2009/10.

The country has made significant progress, achieving 98.6% primary net enrollment and a gender parity rate of .99 for primary education. The major challenges that the education system faces are: reducing the high grade 1 dropout rate, enhancing equity, and improving learning outcomes.

The ESDP 2016-2020 has set the following areas of focus:

  • Achieve compulsory primary education and expand compulsory education to include lower secondary education
  • Eradicate illiteracy, across all ethnic groups, by supporting relevant lifelong learning
  • Expand, strengthen, and promote secondary education, technical and vocational education and training, and higher education to respond to future demands of the labor market and improve economic outputs
  • Improve the responsiveness of the technical vocational education and training system
  • Ensure that graduates have competence to enter the workforce through improving the quality of higher education and technical vocation
  • Ensure that technical, professional, and academics have knowledge and are capable of using modern technology and science
  • Improve quality and relevance of education to provide youth with the knowledge needed for socio-economic development
  • Apply ICT as the tools for improving education administration and management and education quality
  • Expand education policy research and evaluation from the central to local level
  • Expand physical education and sports from central to local level.

Blogs and news

Thai students smile at the camera during a school visit. Credit: Francis Peel
April 10, 2018
Participants from Nepal, Bhutan and Lao PDR share the main take-aways and useful resources of the 7th Annual School Health and Nutrition training course which took place last month in Bangkok.
Education in Laos. Credit: GPE/Stephan Bachenheimer
September 24, 2017
Officials from several Loa ministries took part in an education sector working group in Vientiane to approve steps for restructuring the second phase of a GPE project that supports the improvement of...
Young girls hold up their chalk boards. Banteay Dek Primary School, Cambodia March 2015. Credit: GPE/Livia Barton
March 13, 2017
The penchant of many education systems to prioritize English at the expense of other non-dominant languages, often children’s mother tongues, can have a negative impact on learning

Latest grant

Children in a primary school in Lao PDR.

CREDIT: GPE/Stephan Bachenheimer
Development objective: Support the Government of Lao PDR in improving preprimary and primary education quality.
Grant agent:IBRD

The US$16.8 million GPE grant for the second Global Partnership for Education project was launched in October 2015, and aims to improve the quality of pre-primary and primary education in the country.

The project allocates most of the resources to the districts that have the highest female drop-out rates and also provides schools and communities with the tools needed to ensure that all children are in school and reading in the early grades.

The main priorities are:

  1. Strengthening school-based management by:
    • Promoting development, implementation, and monitoring of effective school development plans
    • Strengthening the capacity of local/district/provincial level stakeholders to engage in discussions to increase enrolment, improve attendance, and school quality, with a special focus on districts with low girls’ primary survival rate
    • Improving reporting and accountability after the use of school block grants
  2. Improving reading outcomes and assessment capacity by:
    • Developing and piloting a reading development intervention in Lao language in Grades 1 and 2
    • Conducting research aimed at informing policy and programming decisions to support reading development approaches for ethnic students and those with weak Lao language skills.
  3. Supporting project management and monitoring and evaluation by:
    • Promoting the development of government-wide systems for financial management
    • Strengthening the existing mechanisms for monitoring and data collection and supporting project specific data collection when needed.

The local education group in Lao PDR is called the Education Sector Working Group. It is chaired by the ministry of Education and Sports and co-chaired by Australia. It also includes the ministry of Finance and the ministry of Planning, as well as development partners such as Australia (DFAT), the European Union, GIZ, Japan, Luxembourg, Plan International, Room to Read, Save the Children, SIDA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, the World Bank, and the World Food Programme. EU and DFAT are the co-coordinating agencies.

Source: World Bank program appraisal document, March 2015.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Disbursements Grant agent  
Program implementation 2015-2020 16,800,000 7,447,704 IBRD Progress report
2010-2014 28,268,034 28,268,034 IBRD Progress report
Sector plan development 2014 239,520 197,459 UNICEF  
2012 249,100 246,631 IBRD  
Program development 2013 200,000 199,977 IBRD  
  TOTAL 45,756,654 36,359,805    

Education sector progress

The graphs below show overall progress in the education sector in Lao PDR. For detailed results from GPE funding, please look for progress reports in the grants section.


Primary completion rate (%)

Lower secondary completion rate

Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age

Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age

Pre-primary gross enrollment rate

Gender parity index for out-of-school rate – Primary and lower secondary

Public expenditure on education as share of GDP (%)

Public expenditure on education as a share of public expenditure (%)

Students/trained teacher ratio

Teachers trained (%)

Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.

Last updated September 26, 2018