The Education and Sports Sector Development Plan 2016-20 states that the complete national curriculum for all primary grades shall be revised. In parallel, instructional materials are enhanced for all subjects and grades based on the curriculum improvements and international best practices.
Indeed, for the last three years, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) have been working on the new national primary curriculum with the support of BEQUAL technical advisers and the Research Institute for Educational Sciences (RIES) is currently finalising the revised textbooks and teacher guides for Grade 1 and 2.
The new textbooks use colour and plenty of visuals to increase attention and memory retention of the students. Each student will receive one textbook per subject for Lao Language, Science & Environment, Moral Education and Maths (maths is developed by JICA). The new teacher guides contain more detailed guidance on how to teach each lesson in a way that makes students more engaged with the lesson. They also contain suggestions on how to assess students’ learning, and ideas for using local knowledge, creating extension activities, working with multi-grade classes or teaching students for whom Lao is their second language. All teachers will receive one teacher guide for every of the seven subjects taught in grade 1 and 2.
All materials were tested in twenty-five pilot schools in four provinces around the country. The districts and schools for the pilot were selected carefully to reflect the social, economic and linguistically diverse nature of schools across the country. The grade 1 materials were tested during the 2016/17 school year and the grade 2 during the 2017/18 school year. Regular monitoring visits were made to the pilot schools by RIES curriculum writers in teams with district and provincially based MoES staff.
In June 2018, all participants from the pilot, pedagogical advisors and education staff from Provincial Education and Sports Services, District Education and Sports Bureaus, heads of school and grade 1 and 2 teachers gathered with the curriculum writers of RIES and BEQUAL technical advisers to give their final comments. Their feedback and data collected during the monitoring visits will be used to inform the last revision of grade 1 and 2 curriculum and materials and officially conclude the pilot.
The feedback from the participants has been overwhelmingly positive. There is general agreement that the revised textbooks and teacher guides are much better than the version that is currently being used in classrooms, because they provide clearer support to teachers to teach the lessons and assess students. There have been deep discussions which resulted in recommendations to improve the materials even further. Madame Sengngeune , Director of the Curriculum Development Centre: “These conversations between RIES and teachers, PAs and other education officials have been very constructive, because they will inform RIES to improve the teacher guides and textbooks to better suit the needs of teachers and students”. She is confident that this dialogue between the writers and users will result in higher quality teaching and learning materials.
The new curriculum will be rolled out gradually beginning with Grade 1 in September 2019 and ending with Grade 5 in September 2023.
BEQUAL, a program led by Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR with support from the Australian Government and the European Union is proud to be a part to support the new curriculum that will improve education quality in Lao PDR.