On the occasion of this year’s International Women’s Day celebration, with the theme “Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, H.E. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phout Simmalavong, Minister of Education and Sports and H.E. Paul Kelly, Ambassador of Australia met with representatives from the Department of Teacher Education, Provincial Education and Sports Services as well as Master Trainers from all over the country.
H.E Dr. Phout opened the ceremony “We are here today to celebrate International Women’s Day and to congratulate the Department of Teacher Education and the provincial selection committees for the great progress towards gender parity in the training teams. Gender and inclusive education is a priority under Education and Sports Sector Development Plan 9. I would like to thank the Australian Government for their continued support to the Ministry of Education and Sports’ priorities.” H.E Paul Kelly, Ambassador of Australia said “Australia and Laos have a shared focus on education for all. We are jointly committed to promoting equality and equity throughout the activities we supported. So, I am very pleased to see the increased focus on gender and inclusive education in the curriculum and the teacher training materials.”
The Australian Government has been supporting the Ministry of Education and Sports with the development and implementation of the new primary curriculum since 2015. This includes new teaching and learning materials and the establishment and training of a strong in-service training team for primary teachers.
The training teams are key to a successful uptake of the new active learning pedagogy by all teachers and learners. They have the responsibility to orientate primary teachers on the new curriculum. The trainers also support the teachers throughout the school year with the new teaching techniques and student-centered pedagogy.
Every year in November, Provincial Education and Sports Services and Teacher Training Colleges representatives, under Department of Teacher Education guidance, review the 18 provincial trainer teams which consist of more than 600 provincial trainers. They reflect on challenges, successes and lessons learned during previous teacher training. The review of the Provincial Training teams is based on performance, demonstrated commitment and technical capacity. This ensures effective high-quality training and strong support to teachers with the curriculum implementation.
This year, the review committees were asked to also consider the diversity and gender equality in their teams to reach a greater representation of female trainers. Specifically, each province was asked to reach the gender target of increasing the number of female trainers by 10% or reach parity with 50%. As a result, the percentage of female Provincial Trainers across all provinces for the 2022-23 teams has increased by 5% from 40% to 45%. Of the 18 provinces, 11 provinces reached the gender target, of which 6 provinces have at least 50% of female representation in their team.
To acknowledge this success, the Minister and the Ambassador handover over polo shirts to promote further gender and diversity. They will be distributed to the Master Trainers and the 11 Provincial trainer teams and review committees who achieved the target.
H.E Dr Phout said “I am very happy to see more women in the training teams. Diversity means different perspectives, experiences and incorporating gender equality. With this combination, we have stronger teams.”
The Ambassador stressed the importance of positive gender role models “I encourage trainers to support each other, especially the male trainers to support the female trainers and be active and positive role models promoting women’s progression and learning. I believe that the increasing number of women who are part of the master and provincial trainer teams will inspire other women and create a more diversified trainer team with different experiences and perspectives.”
After the event, the Minister and the Ambassador discussed gender promotion with two Master Trainers; they shared their experiences from training provincial trainers; they explained their strategies to better support women’s and men’s equal participation during training and to ensure that all participants, no matter their gender or origin have the opportunity to contribute actively.