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Laos

This profile is represented by the Ministry of Education and Sports, Laos. SEA-VET.NET shall supplement more information from other TVET line Ministries, private TVET institutions and relevant agencies in the course of time. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to share relevant information to help us further develop the profile. 

Key Indicators


  • Capital

    Vientiane 

  • Main Industries/Sectors

    Resource-based Economy (Forestry, Agriculture, Hydropower, Minerals); Tourism

TVET

Overview

Lao PDR is a landlocked country bordering Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. About 6.5 million people live in its 18 provinces, with the majority (68%) still living in rural areas. However, urbanization is occurring at a rate of 4.9 % each year. The country is largely mountainous, with most fertile land found along the Mekong plains. The river flows from north to south, forming the border with Thailand for more than 60% of its length. Despite still being a least developed country (LDC), Lao PDR has made significant progress in poverty alleviation over the past 2 decades with poverty rates declining from 46% in 1992 to 23% in 2015. The country achieved the Millennium Development Goal target of halving poverty; however, the challenge now is to ensure that all Lao people benefit from the country's development. (UNDP, 2018). According to UNDP in 2018, Lao People's Democratic Republic’s HDI value for 2017 is 0.601— which put the country in the medium human development category—positioning it at 139 out of 189 countries and territories. Between 1990 and 2017, Lao People's Democratic Republic’s HDI value increased from 0.400 to 0.601, an increase of 50.3 percent.

According to the ILO (2016), The Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s economy is undergoing imperative changes which consequently lead to significant implications for the workforce development and planning. Important growth is expected in industry and in services, mostly in mining, hydropower, trade, hotels and restaurants, telecommunications, and information technology (IT). In addition to that, the garments industry, which started out in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in the 1990s, is now one of the country’s most important export sectors. It is also one of the largest sectors in terms of employment, with 30,000 workers. As a result, the government is helping businesses and manufacturers by facilitating the export procedure. Agriculture, textiles and handicrafts industry are also some important sectors for the development of The Lao Country. (ILO, 2016). However, for the majority of the rural population, it is very crucial to ensure that growth and progress are inclusive and that environmental impacts are mitigated. Moreover, Laos needs to gain adequate and fair benefits from its resources.

The Development Plan (Technical and Vocational Education and Training Development Plan 2016-2020 (currently - 2018 - in force) is implemented by TVET institutions managed by the Department of Technical and Vocational Education (DTVE) in partnership with other organizations, particularly the MoLSW and Center for Education Quality Assurance of the MoES.

The current (2013) legislation distinguishes between short-term skills development training (less than 12 months), falling under MoLSW jurisdiction, and continuous training of more than 12 months, called TVET, which falls under MoES jurisdiction. The two ministries are, therefore, the main departments in charge of TVET in the country. However, some skills development and vocational training is also provided under other line ministries such as the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) and the Ministry of Health (MoH). (ILO 2016, p. 15).

Mission

The main TVET goals in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic are to contribute to the country’s socio-economic development, achieve poverty reduction targets, and help the country emerge from the group of least-developed countries by 2020 (the TVET Master Plan) (ILO 2016, p. 14).

The overall TVET objectives (MoES 2015, p. 40) are to:

  • Establish vocational schools and vocational training centres in necessary districts; improve and expand colleges, vocational schools, technical schools and vocational training centres; upgrade technical vocational schools in some provinces in order to provide vocational training in various forms;
  • Expand enrolment in vocational education and training to cover approximately 60% of graduate students from general education of the country to also take care of the poor, women, minorities and disabled;
  • Develop vocational education and training system in accordance with the national education reform strategy by developing the education qualification framework, occupation standard setting, standardized curricula; use curriculum as a modular/learning element and credits to facilitate the recognition of prior learning (RPL) continuous programme; use the technology of communication, knowledge of SME business management and knowledge about the environment in the vocational education and training curriculum;
  • Bring in vocational education courses into general education and pilot tests in schools where possible;
  • Organize career guidance to increase enrolment in vocational education and training and professional counselling and training to prepare for work;
  • Build and expand institutes for TVET teacher training as centres for teacher training in the country covering some of the necessary occupations in sufficient quantity and quality; develop teachers’ training on techniques, skills and pedagogy and develop administrators, as well as personnel in vocational education regularly to meet the technology information needs linked to regional and international areas;
  • Create quality assurance and assessment system of vocational education and training to ensure efficient and effective building of the workforce;
  • Improve and expand the management responsible for vocational education and training at central, provincial, district levels and other parts to support decentralization of vocational education and training; and
  • Monitor the implementation of the TVET Law and decrees, notices of enforcement, and research; improve the principle of the technical income generation, production, administration, billing, public-private partnerships and other necessary regulations.

TARGETS

Key TVET targets (MoES 2015, p. 43-44) are as follows:

  • Establish technical and vocational schools and centres in all provinces and some suitable districts so that all have at least one school and centre;
  • Improve and expand the existing technical and vocational schools and vocational training centres and labour skill development centres;
  • Upgrade technical and vocational colleges with potential in various provinces so they can offer training at different levels using varied approaches in line with the vocational qualifications framework; and
  • Expand vocational education and training access to reach 65% of students who completed general education to enrol in vocational education institutes: 25% enrol in MoES vocational institutes and the remaining enrol in private sector and in other vocational institutes.  

Additional key targets are:

  • At least 10,000 disadvantaged persons receive scholarships for Certificate 1 and 2 courses and vouchers are offered to 1,000 persons;
  • 40% of students enrolled for Certificate 3 and Diploma courses receive scholarships;
  • Gender parity ratio in TVET improves by 50%;
  • At least 2,000 students enrol in dual training, where part of the training is delivered by companies;
  • At least 20 new occupational standards are developed by the Trade Working Groups and endorsed by National Training Council;
  • Legislative documents on Lao Vocational Qualifications Framework are endorsed;
  • Graduate tracer studies are carried out every three years and their results are used to inform the TVET course offerings and curriculum upgrades;
  • The skills and social competences of TVET graduates are considered to be adequate by 80% of employers;
  • 80-90% of TVET students have access to vocational counselling and guidance services;
  • All TVET students complete an entrepreneurship module as a part of their course;
  • TVET institutions per year undergo external assessment in accordance with revised quality assurance indicators;
  • Annual targets for upgrading the qualifications of TVET teachers are met: 1 PhD, 5 Masters, 10 Bachelor Degrees, 12 Higher Diplomas and 25-30 “expert teachers” certifications; and
  • Functioning School Advisory Boards involving local industry members are set up in all TVET institutions.

In line with the above stated goals, objectives and targets, the Government of Laos has prioritised TVET access, quality & relevance, and governance to lead TVET Development 2016-2020 as illustrated in fig. 1.

Figure 1: Laos Government's Direction for TVET Development 2016-2020

Source: Presentation (VEDI_17_10_2017.pptx): “TVET Initiative in Response to Sustainable Development Goal: TVET Teachers Development in Lao PDR”

Legislation

Following key legislation has been put forth to achieve TVET goals and implement related strategies:

  • Decree on Approval and Enactment of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Development Plan 2016-2020 (currently – 2017 - in force);
  • The Education Law of the Lao PDR ref No. 04/NA dated July 3rd 2007;
  • Pursuance to the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Law, ref No. 42/NA dated December 23rd 2013 (source: MoES 2015, p. 40);
  • Decree No. 036 on Technical and Vocational Education and Training and Skills Development distinguishing between the functions of the MoES and the MoLSW (ILO 2016, p.12); and
  • Decision No. 155 on the decentralisation of education (ILO 2016, p.13);
  • TVET Law has been amended and approved by National Assembly on 12 June 2019 and ready for dissemination in the beginning of 2020.
Strategy

The TVET Development Plan has been built based on specific guiding principles:

  • Alignment with the TVET Strategy 2006-2020 but taking into account socio-economic evolution in Lao PDR;
  • Alignment with the 8th NSEDP (National Socioeconomic Development Plan) 2016-2020; and
  • Alignment with the targets of the ESDP 2016-2020 (Education and Sports Sector Development Plan).

Following the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Development Plan 2016-2020, actions implemented should be based on:

  • Linkages to the economic and social priorities as well as national and local needs analysis;
  • Either a sector approach (examples: hospitality, financing, agriculture, garment, wood processing) or transversal approach (curriculum development, qualification system) but with applications through pilot projects and subsequent dissemination;
  • Various financing sources: government, private sector, foreign donors and international organizations, and individuals when possible;
  • Involvement of the Provinces for increasing roles in the local implementation of TVET schemes and better alignment with Department of Technical and Vocational Education (DTVE);
  • Adaptation of the TVET system to the needs of employers based on labour market information system and in the absence of it, based on:
  • signals from employers gathered by the National Training Council (NTC) and strengthened Trade Working Groups (TWGs);
  • Improved relations between the management of the TVET schools and provincial stakeholders; and
  • Information from tracer studies.
  • Increased focus on learning outcomes through dissemination of competency based training, DCT; and
  • Focus on high demand sectors: construction, mechanics, hospitality, electricity, furniture, automotive and agriculture.

Based on the TVET Strategy and Master Plan, training providers are encouraged to target several groups, including new labour market entrants (school leavers), existing workers, young people, older adults, and disadvantaged groups (e.g. the poor, the populations of remote rural areas, and ethnic groups). The government is providing incentives for disadvantaged groups to participate in TVET, through voucher schemes and scholarships. They currently have scholarships, but the amount will be increased to account for inflation, and larger amounts will be allocated for higher levels of TVET and for ethnic groups. The Asian Development Bank’s Strengthening-TVET project (STVET) includes support for the development of a training assistance voucher programme. (source: ILO 2016, p. 14-15)

Governance

The Development Plan (Technical and Vocational Education and Training Development Plan 2016-2020 (currently - 2018 - in force)) is implemented by TVET institutions managed by the Department of Technical and Vocational Education (DTVE) in partnership with other organizations, particularly the MoLSW and Center for Education Quality Assurance of the MoES.

Decree No. 036 on Technical and Vocational Education and Training and Skills Development, the current legal reference for TVET, distinguishes between the functions of the MoES, responsible for (TVET), and the MoLSW, responsible for skills development, certification, and testing. By separating TVET and skills development, however, the decree has led to some confusion and duplication of efforts, with, for example, the two ministries working on developing standards for the same occupation(ILO 2016, p. 12).

The current (2013) legislation distinguishes between short-term skills development training (less than 12 months) falling under MoLSW jurisdiction; and continuous training of more than 12 months, called TVET, which falls under MoES jurisdiction. The two ministries are, therefore, the main departments in charge of TVET in the country. However, some skills development and vocational training is also provided under other line ministries such as the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) and the Ministry of Health (MoH). (ILO 2016, p. 15).

The National Training Council (NTC) is an inter-ministerial organization and tripartite body with 35 members including representatives of youth, women, unions, employers, and different ministries. Its main constituents are the MoES, MoLSW, and Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI). Its president is from the MoES, and its vice-presidents are the vice-minister of Labour and the president of the LNCCI. The NTC’s members are not technical experts but rather high-level representatives. The NTC’s budget (for salaries, equipment, and other items) comes from the MoES, but its mandate is above the MoES. The NTC is the umbrella organization for all TVET in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and it plays the role of an advisory body regarding skills development issues. (ILO 2016, p. 15)

Financing

The overall share of TVET within the MoES budget was planned to double from 2.7% in 2015/16 to 4% in 2019/2020. The budget for TVET is substantially higher than that for primary or secondary education mainly due to the high cost of equipment. Lao TVET development is still dependent on foreign assistance, although the Education and Sports Sector Development Plan (ESDP) noted that the current international assistance for TVET is already relatively high in comparison to the assistance pledged to other education subsectors (12%). TVET donors support in orderto improve the infrastructure and system elements, as well as build capacity so as to achieve sustainability. This support is expected to cover a substantial portion of the needs (MoES 2015, p. 46).

The estimated budget for TVET Development 2016-2020 is around 185 million USD. This includes the MoES budget, donor support (current projects) and an estimation of the remaining needs (financing gap). International support includes ADB, German, Swiss and Luxembourg cooperation cover equipment, voucher programmes, technical assistance, curriculum development and teacher training until 2016, 2017 or 2020 depending on the project. Further assistance with ADB and German cooperation is being discussed, which, if approved, could support dissemination of developed models and identified investment gaps (MoES 2015, p. 1).

  

Table 1: Main donors’ support for TVET in the period 2008-2015

(Source: MoES 2015, p. 48-49)

 

Organization

Amount contracted during the period

End

Planned next step after completion

ADB (SSTVET)

25 million USD

2017-2020

Under discussions

GIZ (VELA-TC)

4.5 million USD

2019-2022

Under discussions

Lux-Dev (Lao/029)

15 million EUR

2016-2020

Under discussions

KfW (VEFF)

7.616 million USD

2019-2023

Under discussions

Table 2: Main donors’ support for TVET in the period 2016-2023
(source: Technical and Vocational Education Department, MoES)

Several bilateral and multilateral donors have been providing financial and technical support to TVET. According to the ADB (2010), bilateral projects that have been conducted or are currently underway include initiatives from Germany (EUR 10 million), Luxembourg (EUR 7.7 million), and Belgium (EUR 1.75 million). Some Asian countries have been supporting selected TVET schools, including Republic of Korea (TVET school in Borikhamsay and three IVET schools), Thailand (TVET school in Savannakhet), and Viet Nam (Vientiane-Hanoi Friendship Vocational School). In addition, multilateral projects led by international organizations have been completed (for instance, a UNIDO-UNDP project worth USD 5.6 million) or are currently ongoing, such as ADB’s Strengthening TVET Project (USD 23 million) and the World Bank’s skills study projects (UNESCO 2013, p. 43f). Table 3 shows the budget provision for TVET for 2016-2020.

Table 3: MoES budget provision for TVET

(MoES 2015, p. 48)

System

National Education System

The key components of the formal education system in Lao PDR are (according to SEAMEO VOCTECH Regional Centre Brunei Darussalam (2015)):

  • Early Childhood Education which includes nurseries (from 3 months to 3 years old) and kindergartens (from 3 to 6 years old);
  • General Education which is divided into primary education (5 years from grade 1 to 5), lower secondary education (4 years from grade 6 to 9) and upper secondary education (3 years from grade 10 to 12);
  • Vocational Education or Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), which is divided into three levels: primary or first level (at upper secondary level), middle level and high level (at post-secondary level);
  • Higher Education (HE) which has different levels including Associate Diploma (2 years), Bachelor (4 years), Master (BA+2 years) and PhD (MA+3 years); and
  • Non-Formal Education through adult education approach.

Figure 2: Lao PDR education system; Source: SEAMEO VOCTECH Regional Centre Brunei Darussalam 2015 (UNESCO (2013, p. 18)

 

Formal TVET System

TVET delivery system according to UNESCO (2013, p.25f): TVET is being provided through various channels:

Public Secondary and post-secondary TVET programmes

  • Under the MoES, there are 14 TVET institutions and 8 IVET schools. In 2008-2009, 59 per cent of the almost 18,000 students enrolled in MOES public TVET institutions were in high diploma programmes. Only 40 per cent of all TVET students were enrolled in diploma programmes. Less than 1 per cent were enrolled in certificate programmes; and
  • MoES universities also provide formal accredited TVET programmes. In 2007-2008, 2,500 high diploma students graduated in forestry, engineering and agriculture at the NUOL in Vientiane. A total of 300 high diploma students graduated in agriculture, business and engineering at the University of Champasak.

Private provision

  • Total student enrolment in private TVET institutions in 2008-2009 was approximately 22,000 across all programmes in 78 national private schools. These schools typically delivered TVET diploma-level courses in English learning, Information Technology (IT), business, mechanics, food processing, automotive and electrical engineering.

Non-formal provision

  • Non-formal TVET is implemented under the supervision of the MOES in IVET schools and also in three centres in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Champasak, as well as in 321 CLCs across the country. In 2008-2009, the three centres provided skills training courses of between five days and three months for a total of 1,154 persons through short courses providing basic vocational skills in wood processing, construction, chicken, frog and fish raising, mushroom cultivation, cookery and beauty (ADB, 2010); and
  • The MOLSW runs four skills development centres offering short and long term training courses in IT, auto repair, carpentry, furniture, garment, electronics, electricity, hospitality and construction, mainly for school drop-outs and unskilled adults. In 2008-2009, a total of 2,660 enrolments were registered in short courses provided by skills development centres. Also, some centres like the Lao-Korean VT Centre provided short fee-based courses in computing.

According to UNESCO (2013, p. 26) there are two types of institutions in the formal system: TVET institutions and Integrated Vocational Education and Training (IVET) Schools.

TVET institutions include technical, vocational or technical/vocational schools or colleges where the traditional divisions between vocational and technical or between school and college have been blurred. They offer up to three-year programmes for lower secondary school graduates and a variety of programmes at post-secondary level for upper-secondary school graduates. TVET institutions are administered by several governmental bodies (Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Culture and Health).

IVET schools deliver formal TVET and non-formal basic vocational training to different target groups, including adults. They are a new kind of TVET school in rural areas, developed with the support of GIZ. So far, there are eight IVET schools under the MOES. According to the TVET Master Plan 2008-2015, the MOES is planning to further expand the network of IVET schools to cover all provinces. The District Education Bureaus, under the MOES and the Department of Non-Formal Education, are responsible for non-formal education institutions in their own districts. Non-formal education programmes in Lao PDR target three groups: (a) children and young adults aged 6-14 who did not have an opportunity to attend primary school and are willing to follow literacy and continuing education courses, (b) adults aged 15-40 who are illiterate and are willing to follow eight literacy and continuing education courses, and (c) youth and adults aged 15-24 who do not have definite vocations and are willing to follow basic vocational training (UNESCO 2013, p26).

According to STVETLAO’s “Statistics of Teachers-Staffs and Students of Public TVET Institutions from the year 2008 to 2013” there are (were) 22 public institutions (managed by the Ministry of Education and Sports - MoES) providing TVET. Apart from MoES and MoLSW, there are 11 ministries as well as other organizations providing TVET, including:

  • Ministry of Public Health with one University of Health Science and 12 Schools for Nurses
  • Ministry of Finance with three training institutes
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry: five specialised training institutes
  • Ministry of Information and Culture: five training institutes
  • Ministry of Justice: three training institutes
  • Bank of Lao: one training institute
  • Lao Women’s Union: three training centres
  • Lao Revolutionary Youth Federation: 10 training centres

There is also a total of 69 private schools delivering TVET education, mainly diploma level courses in English, on IT and business. The private TVET institutions mainly offer courses for the services sector, which do not require heavy investment in infrastructure. In 2013/2014 the majority of students in private TVET studied courses for the service sectorwhile only 4,5% studied courses for the industry sector. Therewas no offer related to agriculture (source: Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) (2015, p. 19f).

There are overlaps among short courses provided by IVET schools, Department of Skills Development of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (DSD) and Department of Non-Formal Education (NFE) of the MoES. However the priorities for NFE are different from those of DTVE. They include: literacy, recognition, bridging courses, life skills and skills for income generation. NFE supports several thousand trainees per year with three institutes, 17 centres and 8 community-learning centres.

DSD is managing one institute and four skills development centres. The training approach of the MoLSW is based on 30% theory and 70% practice.

Qualification system of TVET

There are five certificates in upper-secondary TVET and five diplomas in post-secondary TVET. At upper secondary level, the following certifications are offered (UNESCO 2013, p. 24):

  • The Vocational Education (VE) Certificate can be obtained after completing 9+3 regular programmes by students graduated from lower secondary education;
  • IVET Certificate I after 6 months of continuous education;
  • IVET Certificate II after an additional 6 months of continuous education;
  • IVET Certificate III after an additional 1 year of continuous education;
  • IVET Certificate IV after additional 1 year of continuous education;
  • There are three diplomas at post-secondary level, and a Bachelor’s degree: The Technical Education (TE) Diploma can be obtained after completing 12+2 regular programmes by students graduated from upper secondary education or with the VE Certificate;
  • The Vocational Education (VE) Diploma can be obtained after completing 1 to 2 years of continuous programme by students who already possess the IVET Certificate IV; and
  • The High TVE Diploma can be obtained after completing 2 to 3 years of regular programme by students graduated from upper secondary education, or after completing 1 to 2 years by students who already possess the TVE Diploma either as a regular or continuing programme.

Figure 3: TVET System in Lao PDR

Source: SEAMEO VOCTECH Regional Centre Brunei Darussalam (2015)

 

Non-formal & Informal TVET System

Non-formal TVET is implemented under the supervision of the MOES in IVET schools and also in three centres in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Champasak, as well as in 321 CLCs across the country. In 2008-2009, the three centres provided skills training courses of five days to three months for a total of 1,154 persons through short courses providing basic vocational skills in wood processing, construction, chicken, frog and fish raising, mushroom cultivation, cookery and beauty.

The MOLSW runs four skills development centres offering short and long term training courses in IT, auto repair, carpentry, furniture, garment, electronics, electricity, hospitality and construction, mainly for school drop-outs and unskilled adults. In 2008-2009, a total of 2,660 enrolments were registered in short courses provided by skills development centres. Also, some centres like the Lao-Korean VT Centre were providing short fee-based courses in computing (UNESCO 2013, p. 25).

 

TVET and Workforce Profile

TVET by demographic group

According to the Labour Force Survey in 2010, a very small proportion (only 3%) of the working-age population (aged 1–64) was receiving, or had ever received, TVET. By demographic group, this proportion was 5.5 % for adult men, 2.3 % for adult women, and only 1.2 % and 1.3 % for young men and young women respectively.

Gender

Age

Persons with TVET

Working age population

Percentage of all persons with TVET

Percentage of demographic group’s working age population

Male

Youth (15–24)

7 201  

587 536

6.6

1.2

Adult (25–65)

65 106

1 189 543

60.0

5.5

Female

Youth (15–24)

8 013

   601 022

7.4

1.3

Adult (25–65)

28 269

1 220 321

26.0

2.3

Total

108 589

3 598 422

100.0

3.0

Table 4: Working-age population with TVET by demographic group, 2010

Source: Lao’s democratic Republic LFS, 2010

According to the Labour Force Survey in 2017, table 5 illustrate the distributed percentage of employment by education attainment, sex and geographical area.

Table 5: percentage distribution employment. By education attainment, sex and geographical area

Source: ILO, Lao PDR – Labour Force Survey 2017, p 43. (https://www.ilo.org/surveydata/index.php/catalog/2032/download/16711)

 

TVET by province

By province, approximately 23 per cent of those with TVET (24,500) were from Vientiane Capital; another 15 per cent, or 16,000, from Savannakhet; approximately 10 per cent, or 10,500, from Xayabury; and 7 per cent in each of Xiengkhuang and Champasak, with the remaining 40 per cent across the other 12 provinces, as shown in the figure below.

LFS results also suggest an important urban-rural divide regarding training. The proportion of people having received TVET was less than 5 per cent in urban areas, 2.2 per cent in rural areas with roads, and only 1.3 per cent in rural areas without roads.