Education in Laos Feels the Financial Squeeze as Premier Wants Booze Out of the Mix

2016-10-12
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Secondary school students are shown drinking in a beer shop in the Lao capital of Vientiane, Oct. 10, 2016.
Secondary school students are shown drinking in a beer shop in the Lao capital of Vientiane, Oct. 10, 2016.
RFA

Some students in Lao universities and teachers in central Laos are feeling a financial squeeze as scholarship students are facing increased fees while some high school teachers are still waiting for paychecks, RFA’s Lao Service has learned.

Students in pedagogical college and the Souphanouvong University in Luang Prabang province are questioning why they are being required to pay the fees while they are on scholarships that are supposed to cover the costs.

“I do not understand why the scholarship students have to pay the annual fees,” said a student on scholarship who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to the student, freshmen on scholarships are now being charged 200,000 kip (U.S. $24.60); sophomores 400,000 kip ($49.20); juniors 600,000 kip ($73.80); and seniors 900,000 kip ($112).

In general students receiving a scholarship are provided with a 70,000 kip ($8.61) per month stipend to cover living expenses.

In addition, the scholarship students in the four-year Souphanouvong University pay annual fees of 500,000 kip ($61.50), but they receive stipend of 200,000 kip per ($24.60) per month.

Non-scholarship students in the Souphanouvong University and the pedagogical college pay the annual fees of almost 2 million kip ($246).

Education officials told RFA that the fees are necessary to offset the rising costs of education.

“They have to pay higher fees annually because the cost for a credit-hour has increased year by year,” explained a professor at one of the pedagogical colleges, who requested anonymity.

Deputy Education Minister Kongsy Sengmany told RFA that scholarship students aren’t paying an annual fee, but are being charged to cover the costs of registration.

“The scholarship students do not pay annual fees, but they must get paid a monthly living allowance,” he said. “They are charged only for registration costs in accordance with the principles.”

Teaching with no pay

While scholarship students are being squeezed with new charges, teachers in the secondary schools in the Nakai district of the central Lao province of Khammuane haven’t been paid since July.

“The problem is that we have not been paid salaries since July. Now it is October, which is the new academic year, and we do not know financial details,” said an official with the district’s education and sports office. “Finance officials tell us they are processing the documents, but sometimes they tell us that the documents [on salary payment] are incomplete.”

“We do not know where the documents are delayed because the officials of education and sports department throughout the district have the same problem,” the official added.

The pay problem isn’t confined to just the Khammuane province as local media report that teachers of primary schools in Soukhouma district in Champassak province have not been paid salaries since August.

No more booze in school

While scholarship students fret about higher fees and teachers worry about their pay, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith during a speech on Oct. 7 said he wants entertainment venues, beer shops and gaming machines removed from areas near schools.

“In Laos there are many entertainment and beer shops opened near schools throughout the country, and it is not unusual to find  that beer and alcoholic drinks are available everywhere,” a resident of the Lao capital of Vientiane told RFA.

While the resident applauded the prime minister’s call, he wondered how it could be done without a government decree.

“The thing is, how can the relevant officials implement the measures to remove them?” the resident said. “To do that effectively, the prime minister should issue a decree or moratorium.”

Alcohol consumption in Laos is a huge issue as the country ranks at the top of all Southeast Asian nations for per capita alcohol consumption, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to a 2013 WHO study an average of 7 liters of alcohol is consumed per person per year in Laos.

Laos has many ethnic groups and each has its own traditions and culture but alcohol plays an important role throughout Lao society, the survey found.

Reported by RFA's Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

Comments (3)
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khon La

from thai Lao) (Vientiane

There was no Thai ethnic group in ancient history of China. The word thai means people in Lao language. We say thai siam,thai Lao( knon Lao) thai tai, thai neua, thai Vientiane , thai Luaung Prabang,thai Pakse, thai Dam, thai deng( tai dam, tai Deng formerly in old Lao language).

Nov 19, 2016 07:09 AM

Pao Vang

from Milpitas Ca USA

Thai- Lao , Thai Dam, Thai Khao, Thai Lue, Thai Theng and so on ...

Are they different ?
They all have one common ancesters for these Thai , lao, and tae people. They probably have one common father and different mothers. If you test their DNA you will find out that they are all related to each other. Even brothers who share the same mother like Abel and Cain, killed each other for power or for inheritance. So when it comes to power , land , silver or gold Brother will kill brothers. Each person want to be the top guy and rule over others.

Oct 31, 2016 07:17 PM

Lao

from Ailaoland

We shall congratulate the Nation and the China post for the articles they produced to highlight the insults made by a Thai photographer toward Lao people while covering the Vientiane moto expo.
The Siamese aggressors conquered and grabbed lands from Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and 16 provinces from Lane Xang to form the so-called today Thailand. The Siamese proceeded to rewrite history to distort the realty and the facts, they worked hard to swallow and brainwash other group of people in order to destroy their culture and languages. They prohibited the Lao in the opposite side of the Mekong to use Lao alphabet and the Chinese don't make exception, Chinese schools are not permitted to open. The so called Thailand that they want to say land of the Thais is fake and artificial, Marshall Pork Pit Bull Songkhram took the word Tai for Thai to invent artificially the Thais pantheism. The Siamese are not Tai, but the so-called Thai Isan and citizen of Lane Na are descendant of Luo Yue or AiLao as we the Lao Vientiane are. The Siamese have no shame to call us Thai noi! we are not Thai noi as they want us to be, we are Lao or Ailao,descendant of Luo Yue ethnic group who lived in China even before the Hans who emigrated from Caspian Sea.
Thai Siam profited the Vietnam war to enrich by renting the military bases to the US air forces, and the sex industry has been well developed, Thai Siam provided the women to serve as comfort women for the Gi for money and aids. The main factors of Thailand's economy are black market, drug trafficking and prostitution said once by a French newspaper.
Thailand may be more developed than Laos economically but mentally and culturally the Thai people are far behind the Lao who are more progressive in the way of thinking. The Thai are superstitious, naive and conservative who live in the absolute monarchy under the tough outdated lese-majesty laws, the freedom and primary rights are suppressed by the junta.
Personally I support the Malaysian separatist in the south of Thailand who fight for independence unlike some of the so-called Thai Isan who don't recognize they are Lao and some time they are too proud to be Thai. Those people are too submissive accepting being a second class citizen in their own country.
The Thai enjoy to talk mockingly that Lao people eat sticky rice about what I want to let them know that the Japanese use stick rice to make sushi as well.
Right now in the kingdom , The 96 years old insane man who has been behind all of the anti-government protests that stirred up the situation for the military to stage coup to kick out the democratically elected PM is serving as regent while the crown prince is readjusting himself to the deadly air polluted capital of Bangkok from the luxurious and mundane life abroad until he is ready to become king.

Oct 19, 2016 01:55 PM

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