Chaired by Dr Bounpanh Xaymountry, Director General, Department of Planning, MoES and co-chaired by Anna Dyason, First Secretary, Australian Embassy, the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) technical meeting was held in Vientiane with representatives from MoES departments, 18 Provincial Education and Sports Services and 8 Teacher Training Colleges (TTC).
Australia has been supporting MoES since 2015 through BEQUAL and last year extended the program to June 2022.
Dr Bounpanh acknowledged the latest achievements: “During the last six months, Australia, through the BEQUAL program, supported the Ministry with the implementation of the new Grade 2 curriculum. 99% of 8,901 primary schools have received the new curriculum materials for 6 subjects (Lao Language, Sciences and Environment, Moral Education, Arts and Handicraft, Music and Physical Education); 9,421 Grade 2 teachers attended in-service training and started teaching the new improved Grade 2 curriculum in September 2020.”
Anna Dyason added “Australia is supporting BEQUAL to assist the Ministry to achieve its education outcomes outlined in the ninth Education and Sports Sector Development Plan. With a particular focus on improving teaching and learning in disadvantaged areas, especially for girls, ethnic children and children with a disability.”
Mrs Sengngeune Wayakone, Director of the Curriculum Development Center, Research Institute for Educational Sciences (RIES) gave an update of the current curriculum development “Grade 3 textbooks and teacher guides are being finalized and will soon go to printing for 4 subjects (Lao Language, English, Sciences and Environment and Physical Education), while the planning of Grade 4 and 5 materials has already started. A Spoken Lao program pilot for non-Lao speaking Grade 1 students which could not be completed last June 2020 due to COVID-19 school closures, is also being repeated in 4 provinces (Phongsaly, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Saravan) and the baseline data collection was completed last December.”
The program also supported the revision of the new pre-service curriculum to train future teachers, aligned with the new primary curriculum taught in schools. “The trial of year 1 of the new pre-service curriculum has been completed and year 2 trial commenced in all 8 TTCs” reported Mr Keth Phanhlack, Director General, Department of Teacher Education. “We also launched an innovative blended learning pilot to build the capacity of Provincial trainers to provide support to primary teachers combining face-to-face training and online learning and interaction”. The Department of Teacher Education is now busy with the preparation of the in-service training of the Grade 3 teachers and is developing new training materials and support tools.
During the technical meeting, the Australian Embassy handed over graphic design, video editing and filming equipment to RIES. This equipment will be used by RIES E-learning department for the layout of textbooks, teacher guides and the production of teacher development videos. The E-learning team is also receiving support and training to capacity build their staff with the use of this high spec laptops and editing software.