Many private and government schools across the country officially opened last Friday, and begin classes today, some drawing fewer students this year due to the growing competition between recently opened schools.
According to Sikhottabong School Director, Mr Thong Ane Leuamvatthana, his school usually opens for registration the week before classes start. This year, many have opened for registration a week earlier than normal, especially Vientiane upper secondary schools, which were crowded with new and old students last week.
“Now our school is ready to start teaching and learning. Registration costs around 100,000 kip for new and returning students. Every student must be in correct uniform and have an appropriate hairstyle,” Mr Thong Ane said.
He explained that many schools both in Vientiane and remote areas have to collect extra money from parents to pay for the school’s electricity, watersupply, additional desks, chairs and other needs. Many parents have to pay if they want their children to attend a school that has enough space and equipment for them
“The number of our students is a little lower this year than last year, because the number of private schools is increasing,” he added.
Vientiane upper secondary school Director, Mr Aicho Atphasouk, said “Our school began classes on September 1, but not all students came to school as some of them have not yet registered, because they have moved from other provinces and will have to prepare the paperwork for the new term.”
“In the past there were many schools that could not finish the curriculum because they began teaching later than they should have,” the director added, and also stressed that his school will try to motivate students to avoid drugs this year.
Banhom primary school teacher, Mr Keo, said “The number of students at our school in Hadxaifong has fallen eight to 10 percent. We opened for students to register for the new term one week early.”
“There are less than one hundred students this year, but the number increased a lot a few years ago. These days, many parents want to send their child to private school,” he said.The Director of a private primary school in the same district and also named Banhom, Mr Khamhou Phongdara, said his school had just opened for registration last week, and now has over 400 students.
He explained that his school must add around 40 new sets of desks and chairs to accommodate the new students. “Now we have begun building a new lower secondary school which will be finished next year,” he said.
“This year we are determined to improve our education standards and develop our curriculum. We already have full kindergarten attendance and many villages are now free of illiteracy. At present we have more than 4,000 students in our primary schools, and last term over 90 percent of our students passed their exams,” he said.
“This year we expect about 400 students to register.” Mr Khamhou said.
In Vientiane, some schools are using the threat of higher fees if students delay their registration.
A Vientiane student said that his school opened for registration five days ago so he went to the school to make sure he did not have to pay extra to register later on.
He said that the school was increasing its fees a little this year because of increasing costs.