Mori Grant Report


Thesis Title:               Dropout issue in Lao primary education


Student Name:          Gnangnouvong Itthida


                                    1st year student

                                    Human Security and Communication Program


Thesis Adviser:          Michio Umegaki, PhD




Research Content:

Primary school dropout is one of the persistent issues in Lao PDR. Although Laos is committed to achieve the goal of universal primary education and bring the dropout rate down to 5% by 2015 (Millenium Development Goal 2, the goal of universal primary education). The country is still facing a remarkable high rate of dropout (29% of the total student enrollment), wherein the issue concentrates in primary students (6-10 years old), the most important formative phase for children. Suffice it to say that promoting primary education is one of the greatest challenges for the Lao government. This research, to serve that purpose, is to explore reasons for students to quit school, to see how they (children, their parents, educators from local and central) perceive the role of education in the daily context.


Activity Conducted:

The research mainly relies on in-depth interviews and onsite observations.

Venue: Parkngeum District, Vientiane, Laos.

Date: 04 Aug 2012 04 Sep 2012

I have interviewed 10 students (from 8-13 years old), 20 parents (mechants farmers and office workers), 20 local teachers and a number of governmental officers.


Research Outcomes:

Preliminary findings from the research are presented as follows. There are basically two types of dropout: 1) Students who voluntarily quit school after becoming discouraged by poor academic performance at school, limited Lao to catch up with lessons in classes (ethnic students) or opportunities offered from nearby factories; and 2) students who are forced to quit because of financial difficulties, migration, shortage of labor at home or forced expulsion from school. The majority of the population is farmers. Many of them migrated from mountainous areas. They rely heavily on rice farming in rainy season (around March), thus the busiest time of the year for them. What is puzzling is that given the common understanding of the role of education, e.g. securing a good job in the future, among the interviewed parents, they still let their children quit school, either for a short while or for good. Another puzzle is while the dropout rate stays critically high in this area, Parkngeum District (15.6%), it appears only 2% in the government report about the area and as a consequence, no action from the central has been taken yet.


Conclusion and Further Consideration:

The research, given the dropout situation, is of great significance in making the voices of the local heard and therefore expectedly narrowing down the gap between the local and the central. Education should not be treated as a too abstract concept and its role should not be too much vaguely assumed. Instead it should be specified and customized upon the local daily context so that every child in Laos can enjoy going to school.