Since 2015, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) 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. This strong collaboration and the new curriculum implementation continued amid the COVID-19 crisis and the various lockdowns.
“The major change in the curriculum is the new pedagogical approach. The objective is to encourage students to be more involved and engaged in 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 4 curriculum on May 16th.
He added “Providing well planned, quality in-service teacher training is critical to the success of the new primary curriculum. I am honored to open today the Master Trainers Training that marks the beginning of the series of cascade training to get all Grade 4 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.”
As the two previous years, the delivery of the training was designed to ensure and promote COVID-19 prevention measures. 33 Master Trainers from outside of Vientiane were attending online and 30 from Vientiane were attending in person in two separate rooms to ensure social distancing. The opening remarks were also delivered online via videos.
Mr Dan Heldon, Deputy Head of Mission of the Australian Embassy in Lao PDR 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 support. I am very pleased to see the increased focus on gender and inclusive education in the curriculum materials and the teacher training.”
This year, there was indeed an increased focus on diversity and gender equality during the reviewing process of the training teams and the percentage of female Provincial Trainers has increased by 5% from 40% to 45%. There is now a more gender balanced training team with 63 Master Trainers (46% female) and 18 Provincial Teams of total 633 trainers coming from every district of Laos.
Mr Heldon added “Diversity means inclusion of different perspectives, experiences, skills and incorporating gender equality. With this combination, we have stronger teams.”
During the six-days training, the 63 Master Trainers will be orientated on the new Grade 4 curriculum materials on three subjects, Lao Language, English, and Science and Environment. 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 assessment approach and the new primary lesson planning templates. And finally, the last session will focus on how trainers and teachers can continue to learn, develop, seek and provide support with using the new curriculum during the school year.
There will be an increased focus on gender and inclusive education. The Master Trainers will explore practical ways to support teachers with planning and delivering lessons which promote inclusive education and ensure equal opportunities for all students. For example, by giving female students lead roles in group activities, rearranging the room so that it is more accessible for students with mobility issues, or encouraging non-Lao speaking students to use their first language to check their understanding of lesson content.
In June, the Master Trainers will deliver the training they have received to the 18 teams of 633 Provincial Trainers based in the provinces who will then conduct 4-days face-to-face training workshops to over 9,000 Grade 4 teachers and pedagogical advisors nationwide.
To facilitate additional self-learning, lesson preparation or refresher on specific teaching technique, RIES, with the support of Australia is producing a wide range of videos for teachers and trainers. The videos can be viewed on the “teacher development videos” YouTube channel or on the Ministry ESTV channel. The YouTube channel has already more than 1.6 million views. Two new videos have just been released: a training video on how to make and use flashcards and a Role Model interview on active learning. More production is coming with a training video on how to support Lao students who are not native Lao speakers and a Role model interview on inclusive education and another one on Teacher support. 105 Grade 4 English audio tracks will also soon be available. All videos are filmed in Lao classrooms. They are inclusive and dubbed in Sign Language.
Mr Heldon concluded “I wish you all success in your training. I am looking forward to seeing these more diverse and balanced training teams in action when they cascade the Grade 4 training to over 9,000 Grade 4 teachers and Pedagogical Advisers in July-August 2022. I wish you all the best. Your hard work and effort will help primary school children in Laos to strive for better learning outcomes.”