With support from Australia and European Union, the Ministry of Education and Sports is developing a new improved national primary curriculum along with new teaching and learning materials for primary school students and teachers. The implementation started in September 2019 with one new grade per year.
Last week, Dr Onekeo Nouannavong, Director General of RIES chaired a five-day “Final Editing and Proofreading of Grade 3 materials Workshop” in Thalat, Vientiane Province and the teams are now finalising the edits in a second three-day workshop at the Ministry.
Dr Onekeo opened the workshop advising the subject teams to “work hard, and apply the lessons learned from Grades 1 and 2 in order to constantly improve the materials. These workshops are the last stage before the presentation of the new materials to the Committee for Approval of Curriculum and Instructional Materials scheduled for mid-November”.
The improved curriculum is promoting a new pedagogical method with a focus on active learning. Students will learn through hands-on experience and practical application of their new knowledge. It represents a big change in teaching and learning approaches and the Grade 3 materials are a key instrument to support this change.
The new textbooks are colourful and very visual to increase students’ attention and memory retention. They contain more illustrations, pictures and diagrams to help with understanding. They also contain plenty of activities enabling the students to learn by doing.
The new teacher guides contain an easy-to-use tool for continuous assessment designed to increase opportunities for critical thinking, active learning, and peer collaboration. This year, a new two-column layout design, with more colour, additional white space and less dense text was developed to make it more user-friendly for teachers. It was changed because the current format was very challenging for teachers to read and follow. The new teacher guide layout is designed to make it easier for the teacher to plan lessons, and refer to during class, to find information quickly and to understand the new teaching techniques.
The new primary curriculum integrates content and practices that promote equity and social inclusion. The textbook content has been carefully reviewed to ensure that the curriculum is fair and equitable to all children. Illustrations have a greater focus on gender and inclusive education (G&IE) as the subject teams and the illustrators are implementing BEQUAL guidance and using the G&IE checklist when developing the picture descriptions and checking the sketches.
The general introduction on the new curriculum approach in the teacher guide provides guidance on inclusion for non-Lao speaking students. All subject-specific introductions give additional guidance to teachers to find ways of including children whose first language is not Lao and the Physical Education introduction provides guidance to teachers for including students with disability in Sports activities.
Thanks to the collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Australian Government, every Grade 3 student will receive a new set of Lao Language, Science and the Environment, Physical Education and English textbooks for the start of next school year in September 2021 and Grade 3 teachers will receive teaching materials and have access to training materials.