School and Education in Laos

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.

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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.

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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.

Laos Country Flag

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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 unity government.

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.