Chaired by Dr Bounpanh Xaymountry, Director General, Department of Planning, Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and co-chaired by Ms Sylvia Bitter team leader of the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL), BEQUAL technical meeting was held in Vientiane on 24th February 2022 with representatives from MoES departments, 18 Provincial Education and Sports Services (PESS) and 8 Teacher Training Colleges (TTC) joining face to face or online.
Dr Bounpanh acknowledged the continuous achievements amid the COVID-19 crisis: “Despite the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic Australia through the BEQUAL team together with concerned MoES departments, and colleagues from PESS and TTCs have made excellent progress on BEQUAL program implementation since our last meeting in October 2021. This is a great achievement and I congratulate everyone involved for their ability to adapt and maintain services, productivity and commitment despite the difficulties caused by COVID-19.”
On behalf of the Australian Embassy, Ms Sylvia Bitter reaffirmed Australia’s support and congratulated the Ministry on the Gender and Inclusive Education progress: “Australia is very pleased to be partnering with the Ministry of Education and Sports to support the development of the new curriculum, its implementation and the training and continuous professional development of the primary teachers. Australia and Laos share a mutual interest in improving learning outcomes for more girls and boys of primary-school age, particularly those experiencing disadvantage. The Embassy is particularly pleased to see the ongoing efforts to address inequities related to remoteness, gender, disabilities and ethnicity.”
During the last six months, Australia through the BEQUAL program, supported the Ministry of Education and Sports with the finalization and national implementation of the pre-service diploma, provided extra in-semester support to primary teachers in six target provinces with a greater priority for low performing schools from remote areas, finalized the development of the Grade 4 curriculum with teaching and learning materials for three subjects (Lao Language, Science and Environment and English), produced four new modules of Teacher support Packs to answer the most common teaching challenges encountered by the primary teachers, continued the revision on the Spoken Lao Pilot program for non-Lao speaking Grade 1 students and finalized 1 teacher training videos and launched the production of 2 more.
Until the end of BEQUAL Phase I in June 2022, the main focus of activities will be the production and nation-wide distribution of the Grade 4 materials, the preparation for the Grade 4 curriculum orientation training for all grade 4 teachers, continued in-semester support to primary teachers in target provinces, production of 4 teacher training videos and commencing the writing of the grade 5 curriculum materials
Dr Bounpanh concluded the meeting by thanking Australia for their on-going strong support that will continue into BEQUAL Phase 2: “During 2022 the BEQUAL program will transition to Phase 2, with another four years of support for ESSDP 9 implementation and primary sector development in Lao PDR. I would like to thank the Government of Australia for their continued support to MoES through the BEQUAL program, and I look forward to continuing to work together to achieve our shared goal of improving learning outcomes for all primary school students in Lao PDR, especially those facing educational disadvantage.”