Pre-Primary Education in Laos

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The purpose of pre-primary education is to prepare children physically, emotionally, socially and mentally to enter grade 1 of primary school. This preparation is considered the foundation for further psychological development. Specific objectives for pre-primary school set by MOE include to:

  • enhance the physical development of children;
  • train young children to follow instructions of the teacher;
  • train children to be leaders and followers as appropriate;
  • encourage children's imagination and creativity;
  • train children to be disciplined;
  • facilitate the learning of different movements;
  • train children to be brave;
  • create an environment for children to be happy and enjoy themselves;
  • train children in memorizing;
  • provide a range of experiences for children's development.

Pre-primary education consists of two levels: nursery or crèche, with an intake for children from 2 months to 2 years of age; and, kindergarten, with an intake for children from 3-5 years of age.

Current participation in pre-primary education is at very low levels with wide differences between provinces. Provision of a three-year pre-primary period is expensive, both for human and capital expenditure. For example, teacher training for pre-primary teachers occurs at one TTC in Vientiane Municipality with an annual quota of one place for each province except for Vientiane Municipality which has a quota of two. These quotas do not take into account population differences. Additionally, nursery schools are also provided as part of pre-primary education, although it is not clear from the data to what extent this is within the private sector or is subsidized. In view of the very low internal efficiency in primary education, further expansion of pre-primary education should be a low priority.

Fees for pre-primary education are relatively high and not all families are able to send their children to kindergarten. Likewise, MOE does not have sufficient resources to fund countrywide participation in pre-primary schooling. An alternative approach would be to utilize the private sector as the provider of private education, either completely or through the use of a voucher system.