On 16th May, Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia joined H.E Dr Sisouk Vongvichit, Vice-Minister of Education and Sports, Lao PDR at a primary school in Vientiane. They observed Lao Language and Science and Environment classes being taught using the new National Primary Curriculum teaching and learning materials developed by Research Institute for Educational Sciences with the support of the Australian Government. They were pleased to see in all classrooms, students were collaborating with each other, engaging with the learning materials and learning through experimentation.
Minister Wong and H.E Dr Sisouk Vongvichit also visited several displays prepared by the Research Institute for Educational Sciences and the Department of Teacher Education showcasing the educational and teacher training resources created with the support of the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) program. For example, they were introduced to the materials used in the Spoken Lao Program that supports students who don’t have Lao as their mother tongue.
The Governments of Lao PDR and Australia have a long partnership in education sector development, most recently through the nationwide implementation of the new National Primary Curriculum that facilitates active learning and acquisition of 21st century skills. The new teaching methodology of the new curriculum is based on engaging students though practical activities, problem solving, and critical thinking. Gender and disability inclusive approaches are strongly emphasised in the new curriculum materials, teacher training resources and teaching approach.
H.E Dr Sisouk Vongvichit said “Lao PDR and Australia share a mutual interest in ensuring all young children, particularly those experiencing disadvantage, receive quality primary education. Since 2015, Australia has been supporting the Ministry of Education and Sports, through the BEQUAL Program, with the nationwide implementation of a new National Primary Curriculum, and the design of teacher training and professional development. I am delighted to be here today with Minister Wong to observe the new curriculum being taught in the school.”
Minister Wong congratulated the Ministry of Education and Sports on the completion of the renewal of the National Primary Curriculum and recognised the key role of teachers in shaping the future of the next generation. Quality education underpins sustainable economic development and with one of the youngest populations in South-East Asia, Lao PDR is well positioned to reap the demographic dividend of having a healthy and well-educated workforce to drive economic growth.
Australia’s support to primary education will continue through the second Phase of the BEQUAL Program, with AUD 28 million over four years (2022-2026). In 2023, BEQUAL will focus on supporting the Ministry of Education and Sports’ new system for teachers’ professional development. This will complement the finalisation of the national curriculum roll-out. The objective is that once teachers have received the improved teaching and learning resources, they can then access regular, and high-quality support for use in the classroom. A cross-cutting priority shared by the Lao PDR and Australian governments is to ensure inclusive access to quality education for all girls and boys, of all ethnicities and abilities.