The Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) of Lao PDR, with support from the Australian Government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) program launched the second round of training workshops to support primary teacher Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in mid-July in Savannakhet, Luang Namtha and Kang Khay Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs). The training will be cascaded to Internal Pedagogical Support (IPS) teams in 30 target districts until mid-August.
This training round includes an ICT training focus and all IPS teams, TTC technical teams and some staff in the 30 target District Education and Sports Bureaus (DESBs) will receive tablets. During this new series of five-day workshops, they will learn the basic of tablet usage (getting started with tablets, basic functions of tablets, troubleshooting) and also how to access digital learning resources such as the Teacher Development Videos YouTube channel and Khang Panya Lao. They will also learn how to use tablets for data collection and record keeping. The objective is to enable them to integrate ICTs into their roles in the new primary teacher CPD system with the goal of strengthening the quality of teaching and improving student learning and engagement.
In the new system, CPD and on-going teacher support is facilitated by IPS teams selected in February-March 2023 for 30 target districts from seven provinces (Phongsaly, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Houaphanh, Xiangkhouang, Savannakhet and Khammouane). The IPS teams are based at the school level and are composed of 1,043 principals and deputy principals (40%) and teachers (60%). 56% of IPS team members are women. Three target TTCs, Savannakhet, Khang Khay and Luang Namtha, lead on building the capacity of those teams to provide high quality pedagogical support to primary teachers. The first round of training took place in April 2023 with a focus on facilitation skills, adult learning principles and practical tools to support teachers to engage in CPD for example, school visits, mentoring, peer observation and learning circles. This second round focuses on pedagogical practices which can be used in the classroom and explores tablets and how to use them to support teacher CPD.
Mr Keth Phanhlack, Director General of the Department of Teacher Education (DTE) said: “There are still many challenges with having access to ICT resources such as computers and internet access as well as developing the technical skills to use those tools. It is very positive that Australia and USAID, though the BEQUAL program, supports our TTC technical teams and IPS teams with both equipment and training to develop their technical skills for using digital learning and teaching resources”.
The DESB will be using tablets during monitoring visits to schools to collect data on the implementation of the CPD system. The TTC technical teams will be using the tablets to provide ongoing support to IPS remotely, using tools such as Zoom and WhatsApp. The tablets will also enable them to share learning resources with IPS teams and collaborate with DESBs on providing stronger and more comprehensive support to IPS teams. Moreover, the technical teams can also use the tablets to engage in their own CPD through digital learning.
The other parts of the training consist of unpacking teacher guides and active learning specifically for Lao Language, Maths and Science and Environment and guidance on how to use teacher guides for lesson planning and delivery. The training also focuses on professional skills and attitudes as well as child protection and safeguarding.
Mr Keth Phanhlack concludes: “The IPS teams will start to support the primary teachers in their local areas at the start of the new school year in September. They will visit peers in other primary schools and provide one-to-one advice to teachers to help them improve their teaching skills and knowledge. Thanks to the tablets, they will have easier access to teaching and learning resources to share with the teachers and CPD tools and techniques to answer the challenges teachers may encounter.”