Officially, it is compulsory school for everyone for five
years in Laos. Primary school begins when the children are 6
years old. Since 1986, the educational system has changed in
a democratic direction, and in 1990 private schools were
allowed to provide better opportunities for schooling to
more people. Secondary school is two-fold (3 + 3 years). In
2001, 83% of children started primary school. There are
major regional differences. In the cities, almost everyone
goes to school, while in the mountain areas less than a
quarter attend primary school. 32% of the relevant age group
on a national basis started in high school. In 2001, an
estimated 35% of the adult population was illiterate. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Laos.
1958 The United States intervenes. Dictatorship
The sharp reaction of the United States and its threat of
suspending financial assistance to the country undermined
the government which fell in August and was replaced by the
Committee in defense of national interests. With support
from the United States and Thailand, the new government
cracked down on Pathet Lao, forcing the movement and
Sufanuvong out into the forests of the northern part of the
country and back to the armed struggle.
In late 1959, the military directly assumed power. At
that time, Pathet Lao was already controlling the provinces
of the north and the central parts of the country.
After a successful military offensive, General Fumi
Nosavang's troops captured Vientiane on December 13, 1960,
sending Pathet Lao's forces on the run, which had been
holding the capital for several days. Violent bombings that
cost about 1,500 killed preceded this conquest.
The "Anti-Communist Revolutionary Committee" led by Fumi
Nosavang and Prince Bun Um now received support from
Thailand and the United States and considered themselves the
legitimate government of the country. In return, on December
20, 1960, Prince Suvana Fuma and Sufanuvong signed a
declaration in favor of forming a national unity government.
The "neutrals" were now approaching Pathet Lao. By the
end of 1960, half of the country was under the control of
the Pathet Lao guerrillas, and a similar portion was under
the control of the "neutral" forces.
At the initiative of the United Kingdom and the Soviet
Union, negotiations were held in Geneva in 1961 for a
peaceful settlement of the conflict - similar to the
Vientiane agreement of 1957. In June, the 3 princes Bun Um,
Suvana Fuma and Sufanuvong issued a joint communication, who
signed a definitive agreement on the formation of a national
The US invasion of Vietnam led to the
internationalization of the war and the superpower launched
bombing of Laos. In 1970, 500 bombings were carried out
daily against the country. Over the course of 9 years, the
United States threw more bombs on Laos than had been thrown
in Europe during World War II.
After a decisive military offensive, in 1973 Pathet Lao
succeeded in forcing a ceasefire. A government was formed
with Suvana Fuma at the head of representatives of the
government of Vientiane and Pathet Lao. The United States'
final defeat in Vietnam in 1975 (see the Vietnam War)
deprived the Laotian right wing of its sole ally.