Accessibility of primary schools


The preceding Map D.1 has shown that in general terms the proximity of schools correlates well with higher literacy rates in the Lao PDR, even if there are remarkable exceptions. Map D.2 therefore tries to shed more light on the distribution of schools in the country and how many people live nearby. Out of the 10.553 villages, 35% report the presence of a school offering full primary education from grade 1 to 5. Another 45% of villages have a primary school with grades 1 to 3, while 20% of villages are without a school of any kind.

This map shows the time needed for any person in the Lao PDR to reach the nearest school offering full primary education. In other words we are asking how much time it would take to travel to one of the 35% of villages described above. This calculation was based on an accessibility model which is described in more detail in Map A.5. The results show the regions of the Lao PDR in terms of the different travel times to the nearest full primary school, which range from less than 0.5 hour (green colours) to more than 4 hours (red colours).

The spatial patterns on the map show that people living in the more densely populated lowland areas and along the major lines of transportation are in general closer than 1 hour from the nearest school. However, students in remote areas are increasingly deprived of this educational opportunity and often live more than 4 hours away. Given the uneven distribution of population throughout the country it is interesting to know how many villages or persons are affected by these different travel times. The table below provides the results of such a calculation and shows the number of villages and the number of people in different classes of accessibility to full primary schools:

Percentage of
Percent of
Cumulative percent
of population:
0 to 0.5 h
0.5 to 1 h
1 to 2 h
2 to 3 h
4 .7
3 to 4 h
More than 4 h
Table 4: Accessibility of villages and people to the nearest primary school (grade 1 to 5) in terms of
different classes of travel time




This table shows that despite the inaccessibility of many regions in the Lao PDR, many villages and even a higher number of people are quite close to a village with a school offering education from grade 1 to 5. 90% of the population could reach such a school in less than 1 hour. Schools offering only grades 1 to 3 have not been taken into account.

From these calculations we can conclude that even if some regions urgently need better school infrastructure, policy should focus on transforming this quite satisfactory potential accessibility into actual access. This implies that the schools are not only functioning and have teachers with salaries and proper training but in terms of the students implies that ethnic minorities are not disadvantaged because of their language, that families have the economic and social means to send them to school, and that boys and girls have equal opportunities.



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