Australia and Lao PDR have a long partnership in education, sharing a mutual interest in improving learning outcomes of more girls and boys of primary-school age, particularly those experiencing disadvantage.
Since 2015, the Ministry of Education and Sports with the support of the Australian Government through the BEQUAL program has been developing a new national primary curriculum along with new teaching and learning materials and a complete training plan for the primary teachers.
“The major change in the curriculum is the new pedagogical approach. The objective is to encourage students to be more involved and engaged in the learning activities, to develop critical thinking and problem solving and to apply their knowledge to everyday life” said Dr Onekeo Nouannavong, director General of the Research Institute for Educational Sciences (RIES) during the opening of the Master Trainer training Grade 3 curriculum on June 21st. He added “Providing well planned, quality in-service teacher training is critical to the success of the new primary curriculum. I am honoured to open today the Master Trainers Training that marks the beginning of the series of cascade training to get all Grade 3 teachers equipped with the necessary skills, techniques and practical knowledge to use the new curriculum materials in their classroom, and ultimately to improve student learning outcomes. I would like to thank the Australian Government for its continuous support with the development and the implementation of the new curriculum.”
Ms Jane Chandler, Deputy Head of Mission of the Australian Embassy in Lao PDR said “A huge amount of work has gone into the preparation of the in-service teacher training amid COVID-19 crisis, and I would like to congratulate all MoES staff involved in this important curriculum reform and teacher training activities. Australia is very pleased to be partnering with the Ministry of Education to help primary school children in Laos to learn better and achieve more.”
During the six-days training of face to face participants and the eight days training of online participants, the team of 59 Master Trainers will be orientated on the new Grade 3 curriculum materials. They will have the opportunity to explore, test and reflect on different classroom activities built around active learning through microteaching sessions. They will also be orientated on the new multigrade model and take part in multigrade teaching demonstrations. There will be an increased focus on gender and inclusive education and each module provides practical gender and inclusive education strategies that teachers can implement in their classroom. In July, the Master Trainers will deliver the training they have received to the 18 teams of 600 Provincial Trainers based in the provinces who will then conduct 4-days face-to-face training workshops to nearly 9,500 Grade 3 teachers and pedagogical advisors nationwide.
As last year, the delivery of the cascade training was designed to ensure and promote COVID-19 prevention measures.
“This is the second year in which the training for the new curriculum happens during COVID-19 lock downs and restrictions requiring changes in delivery and a lot of flexibility by BEQUAL and training participants to deal with on-going changes.” Said Jane Chandler.
All workshops will start with a presentation on how to implement COVID-19 essential prevention measures such as wearing masks, regular handwashing with soap or gel, room ventilation, social distancing and getting vaccinated. Participants will have their temperature screened daily; face masks, hand sanitizers, hand soap and hand towels will be provided. To reduce the number of participants travelling, the Master Trainer training is delivered online for participants located outside of Vientiane capital and face to face for those located in Vientiane Capital. The training days for participants joining the Master Trainer workshops this week will be extended by two days to address challenges arising from online training and to ensure participants develop the required understanding for their training. The Provincial and teacher trainings will be organised locally, and the number of workshops has been increased to reduce the number of people in the same training room and ensure social distancing without impacting on the quality of the training delivered.
The Ministry of Education and Sports is also producing with the support of Australia through BEQUAL, a series of teacher development videos that trainers and teachers can use online for additional self-learning, lesson preparation or to refresh a specific teaching technique. All the videos are accessible via a dedicated YouTube channel “ວິດີໂອສໍາລັບການພັດທະນາຄູ Teacher Development Videos” that has reached over 1 million views. The videos demonstrate key new teaching techniques and show effective practices to apply to solve teaching challenges. All videos are filmed in Lao classrooms and use real examples from teachers using the new national primary curriculum.