COVID-19 has forced Laos to join countries around the world in closing schools and using online distance learning. But rural and urban poor students in the Southeast Asian country not only lack computers and access to the internet — some even live in homes without electricity.
The ninth poorest of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in terms of GDP, Laos’ underfunded education system has been struggling since long before the coronavirus started spreading in the region. In 2018, 91.49 percent of school-aged children were in in school, according to the Trading Economics website.
Families with students in the town of Vang Vieng, Vientiane province, told RFA’s Lao Service that the students in their households lacked access to smartphones or computers while they are being told to study at home.