In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), as a measure to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the Government announced a nationwide lockdown from 30 March 2020 under the Prime Minister’s Order No.06.1 All schools and other educational institutions were closed from mid-March through May 2020 (2.5 months). An estimated 1.4 million students were suddenly out of school, with no information on the resumption of classes.
While Lao PDR has had low numbers of Covid-19 cases (41 cases reported as of 13 January 2021) compared to neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Thailand, the impact of this pandemic has not been limited to health, but is having significant social and economic effects.
To assess the effects within the communities where we work in Lao PDR, we conducted a research study from early September through mid-October 2020 to examine the impact on schooling from the perspective of the Village Education Development Committee (VEDC), the local schools, the teachers, and the students.
Details of our findings are in our report. To summarise, we found that learning at home presented many challenges for students during school closures due to limited access to technology, internet access and parental supervision and knowledge. Like in the cases of most crises, Covid-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities. Marginalized children including those with disabilities, struggling learners, children from non-Lao-Tai ethnic groups, children in the most rural hard-to-reach and poorest communities and girls experienced challenges in accessing remote learning opportunities.