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Laos to upgrade many colleges to universities !

Ministry to upgrade teacher training

Photo: New Souphanouvong University in Luang prabang

The Ministry of Education is planning to upgrade all teacher training colleges to universities in the near future, to enable all would-be teachers to attain a bachelor's degree.

At present only the Faculty of Education at the National University of Laos (NUOL) offers a bachelor degree programme in teaching, with students studying for about five years.

There are five teacher training colleges around the country that offer diplomas, but graduates can teach only at primary or lower secondary schools on completion of their studies.

Four other colleges provide a diploma that allows graduates to teach only at primary schools.

Director General of the ministry's Teacher Training Department, Professor Dr Mithong Souvanvixay, said last week this was the best way to persuade more young people to take up teaching and to improve their skills. The higher qualification would also enable them to earn a better salary.

“We want to provide graduate teachers with a bachelor's degree so that they can teach at any school,” he added.

“A shortage of teachers is the biggest problem Lao education faces right now, so our top priority is to provide more and better qualified teachers.”

“The ministry must not only provide greater numbers of teachers but also focus on raising standards,” Dr Mithong said.

He said there was a serious shortage of teachers in kindergarten and upper secondary schools, particularly in the rural areas. Although the number of teachers entering the field was greater than in previous years, they failed to meet demand.

The main reason for this was that only NUOL graduates were able to teach at upper secondary school or at institutes of higher education, and trainee teachers could only attend NUOL to obtain a bachelor's degree.

But many graduates did not take up teaching positions, especially in the rural areas where the need was greatest. Many of them applied for positions in other fields such as with NGOs and private companies in the larger towns.

In kindergartens the problem was that teachers received relatively low salaries so that teachers at this level are discouraged from entering the profession

“If teachers at all levels are more highly qualified, their financial status will improve and also the quality of education in the country,” Dr Mithong said.

The ministry has already started specialist training programmes at some colleges during the summer holidays to allow teachers to study for a bachelor's degree.

In addition to the nine teacher training colleges, there is a training school for teachers of sport, and another for teachers of monks.

By Soulivan Vongmany

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