Deputy Minister Lytou Bouapao said the ministry planned to offer English and French in all primary schools from Year Three.
He said French would be taught in schools in the main provinces first, in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Champassak provinces.
"Some schools might teach English and others French, depending on the availability of teachers," he said.
He said the ministry planned that by 2010 all primary schools in the country would teach both languages.
However, the deputy minister accepted that some schools, particularly in the remote areas, would have trouble finding teachers by then.
"We cannot confirm that all primary schools will be able to put our plan into action, but we will do our best to make it happen."
Mr Lytou explained that quite a number of schools were already teaching foreign languages, and may be able to provide teachers from among existing students.
Some private schools have been teaching English since Year One and have been building up their students' skills for several years, he said.
He said the ministry would do its best to prepare as many teachers as possible before 2010.
The Director General of the ministry's Teacher Training Department, Professor Dr Mithong Souvanvixay, said the department was in charge of building up the number of teachers of English and French.
However, he said, there was a serious shortage of teachers at all levels, particularly in the rural areas. The number of teachers entering the field was increasing but they were not yet meeting the demand, particularly for foreign languages.
To make sure that enough teachers would be available, Dr Mithong said the department planned to stick to its current obligations before accepting students wanting to train as teachers.
"Before offering scholarships to students we will make sure that when they finish they will accept a position; if not they must repay all the money we paid for their training," he said.
Turning teacher training colleges into universities and increasing salaries are also steps the government is considering to encourage more people to enter the teaching profession.//Vientiane Times -- January 9, 2007