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Year Conducted: 2012



The estimated number of languages spoken in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is 84. The language of instruction at all levels of education is Lao, the official language, which is spoken as a mother tongue by about half of the population. Lao PDR is a diverse and multi-ethnic state whose citizens consist of 49 distinct ethnic groups grouped into four main ethno-linguistic groups: Tai-Kadai,  Austro-Asiatic, Hmong-Yu Mien and Sino-Tibetan. The Education Law of 2000 made the language issue politically sensitive. National Policy on Inclusive Education, which was signed by Prime Minister 2000, aimed to create and promote friendly social environments and quality standards for inclusive education in regards to values, traditions and attitudes towards ethnic group. At present, local languages are not used in education; nevertheless, they are widely used in oral form in schools in ethnic minority areas. According to MLE mapping exercise, four (4) main non-dominant languages – Khmu, Akha, Hmong Daw and Hmong Njua are orally used in formal and non-formal schools in 11 provinces.

Quick Facts
Name of Organization/ Institution Level of Schooling Formal or Non-formal Public or Private Which Languages Number of Children reached by level of schooling Location Use of language in classroom (see explanations below) Materials in classroom
Non-Formal Education Department Pre-Adult Learning NFE Khmu (kjg), Akha (ahk), Hmong Daw (mww), Hmong Njua (hnj) Phongsaly (Mai District): Akha, Khmu and Hmong; Vientiane (Hinheub): Khmu; Sekong (Laleum, Dakcheung): Khmu Pilot project: Use ethnic oral language to explain, translate vocabularies (no written language) Pictures dictionary
Department of General Education (Fromer BEGP) PR FE Khmu (kjg), Hmong Daw (mww), Hmong Njua (hnj), … (4 main groups language) 11 Provinces: Phongsaly, Oudumxay, Luangnamtha, Houaphanh, Xiengkhouang, Vientiane, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane, Salavan, Sekong and Attapeu Use ethnic oral language to explain, translate vocabularies (no written language) by recruiting local ethnic teachers. Supplementary materials: textbooks and teacher guides: mainstreamed ethnic drawing pictures
RIES PR FE Khmu (kjg), Akha (ahk), Hmong Daw (mww), Hmong Njua (hnj) Oudomxay (khmu, Hmong and Akha), Luangnamtha(Khmu, Hmong and Akha), Vientiane ((Hmong and Khmu), Bolikhamxay (Hmong and Khmu) Pilot: Teaching Lao language to ethnic children Textbook, teacher guide, real objects existing in locality, standard teaching and learning materials provided


Name of organisation / institution: 

Give the name of the organisation(s) (NGO, local association, etc) or institution (church, pagoda, temple, university etc.) which is initiating and supporting the action. This can include government agencies and institutions. Please specify type of involvement, e.g. initiator, lead actor, funder and implementer.

Level of schooling:

Identify whether action is at the pre-primary level (PP) or at the primary /elementary level (PR). The mapping is focusing only on these two levels of education.

Formal or Non-formal:

Identify whether action is:

1. in the formal (FE) or non-formal (NFE); and
2. in the government education system (Govt) or outside the government system by non-state providers (NSP).

Public or private:

Identify whether the action is happening in the public education (PUB) system or private (PRI). If this does not apply to your country, write n/a.

Which language:

Give the name of the local or minority language(s) which the action includes. If possible, see your country’s section on the ( and find the relevant 3-letter ISO language code for these languages.

Number of children:

Give the number of children reached by school level (pre-primary and primary/elementary). Please disaggregate by gender (i.e. M: and F:),

Location of action:

Give sub-national location of action(s) either province or district

Use of language in classroom:

Identify how language is used in the classroom by using the descriptors below. Choose the most appropriate one. You can choose more than one.

1. Language of instruction (LOI) is the learners’ mother tongue (MT or L1)  and their second language (L2) .
2. Language of instruction is the mother tongue only.
3. The second language is officially the language of instruction.
4. Language of instruction is the second language with MT as subject.
5. Mother tongue is used orally, no written materials – officially.
6. Mother tongue is used orally, no written materials – unofficially.
7. Second language (L2) is taught as second language.

Materials in classroom:

Are there teaching and learning materials in MT in classroom? Yes or no. If yes, estimate the number of titles in MT.