From 4th to 6th December, the twenty-three members of the Committee for Approval of Curriculum and Instructional Materials (CACIM) chaired by Associate Prof. Dr Khamphay Sisavanh, Vice Minister for Education and Sports, is meeting to review and consider for approval the new Grade 1 textbooks and teacher guides that will be distributed to all primary schools in Lao PDR for the new 2019/2020 school-year.
“The process of review and approval of the curriculum especially master copies of the textbooks, teacher guides, and educational materials is critical. It is the step to certify the quality of the master copies whether they fit students or not, what needs to be improved before submitting to the Minister of Education and Sports for approval of printing and distributing accordingly” said Dr Onekeo.
This is the final step of a process initiated in 2015 when the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) decided to revise the Lao PDR primary curriculum and to develop new instructional materials for students and teachers. The new teaching and learning materials were tested in pilot schools around the country and improved with feedback from the trials and teacher consultations before being presented this week to CACIM. During three intensive days, each subject team leader from the curriculum writers team of the Research Institute for Educational Sciences (RIES) will present its subject to the Committee and respond to questions from the CACIM committee members. CACIM will then make recommendations to RIES for the finalization of the instructional materials.
The new teaching and learning resources are comprehensive: Every Grade 1 student will receive a set of new improved textbooks for Lao Language, Sciences and Environment and Morals. The new textbooks are more colourful including pictures and diagrams to help with understanding, increase attention and memory retention of the young students. Every Grade 1 teacher and primary school principal will receive a set of new improved teacher guides for Lao Language, Sciences and Environment, Moral Education, Arts and Handicrafts, Physical education and Music. The new teacher guides are more detailed and include scripted lessons, guidance on assessment, how to use local resources and create extension activities for students. The guides also include strategies and activities to support teachers teaching non- Lao speaking students.
In addition, every Grade 1 classrooms will receive a resource pack with educational materials such as flash cards and posters to organise classroom activities, set of age appropriate storybooks to support Lao literacy lessons and sets of graded reading books to support literacy development for young readers. The textbook content, the resources and all the activities have been carefully designed by the curriculum writers to ensure that they are fair and equitable to all children.
Following CACIM approval, the printing and the distribution of these materials to every primary school of the country will be one of the main tasks for MoES.
Primary principals, Grade 1 teachers and pedagogical advisors will receive training and support, and curriculum writers from the MoES are also working on the design of training sessions to introduce the new curriculum and familiarise future users with the new materials. A team of 50 Master Trainers and more than 600 Provincial Trainers have already been selected and are getting ready to provide face-to-face training and follow-up support.
“All good quality education systems around the world are built on the foundation of a strong primary education system.” said Ms Katie Smith, First Secretary, Australian Embassy at the opening of the CACIM meeting. “Ensuring that students graduate from primary school with strong literacy and numeracy skills is vital to enable them to fully participate in and successfully complete secondary and higher education.”
The MoES is supported by the Australian Government and the European Union through the BEQUAL program in the development and the implementation of the new curriculum for eight primary school subjects. The implementation will be progressive with one new grade per year, starting with Grade 1 in September 2019. The Mathematics subject is supported by JICA and started its implementation in September 2018 with Grade 1.