With a primary net enrolment in primary education of 98.7% (2017), Lao PDR has met the Millennium Development Goals target of universal access to primary education with gender parity.
Despite this achievement, Lao PDR still has some of the poorest education indicators in Southeast Asia. Approximately 70% of 5-year-old children are not enrolled in Early Childhood Education (ECE) programmes, with those in hard-to-reach areas and from poor families being the most excluded. Many of them do not speak the Lao language, which is the official language of instruction. Pre-primary teachers have limited skills on child-centred pedagogies and supporting materials. The high repetition and dropout rates in primary grades are strongly influenced by the limited access to quality ECE opportunities.
Quality of primary education is another major concern. Only 81.9% (2017) of enrolled children complete primary education. Students’ learning outcomes are low, leaving children without essential knowledge and skills. Teachers' limited capacity, a weak pedagogical supporting system, challenges in multi-grade teaching, and the lack of teaching-learning materials are some of the key constraints.