The Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), with support from Australia through the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR program (BEQUAL), started the implementation of the new improved primary curriculum in September 2019 with a new grade every year.
The MoES is now carrying out a large monitoring mission across 9 provinces to explore progress of implementation of Grades 1 and 2, including use of curriculum resources, effectiveness of in-service training, and effectiveness of follow-up technical support from the pedagogical advisors. The Grade 1 students have now been learning with the new textbooks and the new pedagogical approach based on active learning principles for one year and a half, and the Grade 2 for one semester. The monitoring mission is supported by Australia through the BEQUAL program which provided budget, training, logistical, technology and monitoring support.
The monitoring team is composed of enumerators drawn from the Department of Teacher Education, Research Institute of Educational Sciences, Department of General Education and Legislation and Education Quality Assurance. In each province, up to two Provincial Education and Sports Service (PESS) staff accompany the monitoring teams; this gives PESS provincial trainers an opportunity to visit schools and provide school support if needed. Their knowledge and experience of the new curriculum gained through the Grade 1 and 2 in-service training further enhances the quality of the data collected.
Over 8 weeks from mid-February until the beginning of April 2021, the monitors will visit a total of 21 districts selected amongst the 40 disadvantaged districts that have been identified by MoES as priorities for education sector development support. 10 of the selected districts are also target districts of the BEQUAL program and receive extra support to implement the curriculum.
The monitors are conducting interviews with key primary education stakeholders such as pedagogical advisors, principals, and Grade 1 and 2 teachers to assess their awareness, motivation, commitment and understanding of the new curriculum and pedagogical approach. They observe Grade 1 and 2 lessons and record their impression of classroom practice. They are also conducting interviews with PESS and DESB representatives to understand successes and challenges at province and district level. The team finally met with Village Education Development Committee members and Grade 1 and 2 students’ parents and caregivers to collect their opinion on the new curriculum.
The monitoring data is recorded using tablets and Kobo toolbox, a technology innovation which enables efficient real time data collection and reduces the number of documents and stationery the teams have to travel with.
Following the fieldwork, the data will be analyzed, and results presented at a learning workshop in May 2021. The monitors will share their impressions and discuss key findings from the monitoring with the MoES relevant department to improve the implementation of the curriculum for the coming Grade 3.