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Why extra school costs very expensive in Laos ?

Parents unhappy about extra school costs

Parents in Vientiane 's Xaysettha district have expressed discontentment at having to pay 5,000 kip per student to support the district school sports competition, set to be held next month.

Although it is not a large sum of money, poor families with several children are feeling the burden, especially when they feel they have no choice.

The Head of the Xaysettha Education Office, Mr Bountheuang Chanthaphaychith, responded to concerns this week, saying that in fact no parent is required to pay more than 100,000 kip per year in school expenses for each child.

However, he said, this year the school's compulsory fees failed to take into account sport activities, which meant the education office has had to collect more fees from parents in almost 30 primary and secondary schools.

This is not the first time that schools have had to collect extra money from parents; in previous years, parents have been encouraged to support activities such as teachers' day and other such events.

While the extra costs are not compulsory, most parents will pay the money to avoid difficulties for their children in the playground.

The rising cost of living has forced parents to work harder than ever to feed their children and send them to school, and this has given rise to recent complaints.

Many have pointed out that the government's compulsory education system stipulates that all children may attend school free of charge, as part of the government's efforts to develop the education system in Laos .

However, Deputy Education Minister Mr Lytou Bouapao said yesterday that “sometimes we have to adjust to the reality of the situation, especially when the country's revenue is so small.”

“Development is the duty of all people, so if possible people should contribute to the education system, in accordance with their ability.”

He maintained that parents' associations always discussed the issue with teachers before asking other families to contribute more money, and that problems occurred only when others were unwilling to cooperate.

However, the ministry has advised all schools not to collect extra money from families, to reduce the financial burden on parents who only want the best for their children.

The school sports competition in Xaysettha district is an annual event organised as part of school activities to strengthen solidarity between students, and between schools.

The district plans to spend around 30 million kip on the competition, which will include football, rattan ball, volleyball and other sports.

By Somsack Pongkhao

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