Education ministry struggles to meet demand for textbooks

November 23, 2010

Although the Ministry of Education has distributed textbooks to secondary schools around the country, many schoolchildren are still without textbooks three months after the start of the academic year.

Some parents of students in Vientiane have said their children have had to borrow textbooks from friends to make a copy.

To address the issue, the ministry plans to print additional textbooks for sale to students in the city before sending some to poor districts across the country.

General Director of the ministry’s Secondary Education Department Mr Ly Foung told Vientiane Times yesterday the ministry expects to reprint a further 20-30 percent of the first print run for secondary schools this semester, especially those in Vientiane.

“Because the ministry is short of funds, schools in the provinces will receive textbooks after Vientiane schools,” Mr Ly said.

“We are printing more textbooks for young students in both urban and rural areas. These books will make learning easier for them.”

Textbooks for some secondary school grades are available for purchase at bookstores and markets in Vientiane.

Mr Ly said due to insufficient funding, the ministry has to provide one textbook for every three students in rural areas.

The ministry has distributed more than 960,000 textbooks on 14 subjects for secondary school grade 1, around 850,000 textbooks for grade 4 and over 320,000 schoolbooks for grade 7 to schools around the country, according to the department.

Mr Ly said the ministry plans to hand out more materials to students, including textbooks and other reading materials.

The ministry has provided bo oks free of charge to secondary schools, after receiving financial support from local businesses and NGOs.

The ministry hopes to motivate students to attend school regularly, as part of its strategy to reform the education system and reach certain targets by 2015.

One major goal is to improve the standard of education to produce a skilled workforce to match the country’s development and economic requirements.

The public and businesses should help in providing school materials because many families in remote areas live in poverty and are unable to give their children adequate school supplies, Mr Ly added.

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