The training was held concurrently at Khang Khay and Savannakhet Teacher Training College (TTC) in the week of 25 September, followed by Luang Namtha TTC during the first week of October. The training is part of ongoing capacity development activities for the technical teams in the three target TTCs implemented by the Department of Teacher Education (DTE) and supported by Australia and USAID through the Program.
In the 7 target provinces (Luang Namtha, Phongsaly, Bokeo, Xiangkhouang, Houaphanh, Savannakhet, Khammouane) receiving support through the BEQUAL program, a system for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for teachers is being established to ensure CPD support is school based and tailored to teachers’ needs. In this school based CPD system, the TTCs work closely with Provincial Education and Sports Services (PESS) and the District Education and Sports Bureaus (DESB) to support Internal Pedagogical Support (IPS) staff and teachers. IPS teams of over 1,000 members across 30 target districts have been selected and have attended several trainings to prepare them for their role in supporting teachers. IPS staff began providing support for teachers at the start of the new school year with the goal of improving teaching quality in primary schools. The role of the three target TTCs (Savannakhet, Khang Khay and Luang Namtha) is to develop the technical capacity of the IPS teams. The TTCs will become centers of excellence for teacher professional development, for both pre-service (future teachers being trained) and in-service (current teachers). The ultimate goal is for teachers to be able to engage their students in learning so they can achieve improved learning outcomes.
Mr Keth Phanlack, Director General of DTE said “The Teacher Training Colleges will lead on strengthening the capacity of the Internal Pedagogical Support staff to provide high quality support to primary teachers. Australia and USAID, through the BEQUAL program, provide the training required by the TTC technical teams to carry out this important role.”
The current training is designed for the technical teams of the target TTCs and focuses on their role as mentors for IPS staff. It prepares them for providing face-to-face and remote support to IPS staff. The training is delivered by the BEQUAL Education team.
Aj Bouasone Sengmany, Technical Team Member of Luang Namtha TTC said “this training is very important and useful for the TTC’s Technical Team. The knowledge and understanding we build here is useful for staff who provide technical support to IPS personnel who will go on to help teachers to improve their lesson delivery using the new curriculum”. In addition, Aj Bouasone mentioned that the training is also useful for the technical team for their day-to-day work at the TTC, as well as for their individual professional development. She highlighted that the content from this training helps them to reflect on their own work for future improvement as teacher educators for pre-service and in-service teacher training.
Each training was attended by at least 50 participants, including technical teams from the TTCs, observers from DTE, and monitoring and evaluation and coordination teams from the TTCs and the PESS. Over the four days of training, the participants explored the ways in which their role can support a Community of Learners within the new Lao PDR CPD model. They built an understanding of the skills needed for effective mentoring of IPS staff. In very active sessions, including role play, simulations, and interactive presentations, they practiced the mentoring skills they gained during the training and that they will apply in their work with IPS teams. At the end of each day, participants reflected on their own skills and the relevance of these for supporting their peers in the TTC.
Ajan Larsengkeo Phunlapha and Ajan Saikham Padichit, both Technical Team Member of Luang Namtha TTC said “This training helps us to understand better what CPD is, especially what are the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in the new CPD system. We now have a better grasp on techniques such as consultation and learning circles. The training also focuses on how to support IPS staff either face-to-face or remotely. There was a lot of practice included in the training. We now feel more confident to support IPS staff. We are now better equipped to assess the different situations and problems that might occur in the future and prepare for quality and effective problem solving.”
The TTC technical teams will go out soon to visit and support the IPS staff they are responsible for in their schools. After this first round of visits, the TTC technical team will meet again to reflect on the visits and share experiences with each other. They will continue to work on their own professional development in order to become strong support for IPS and help to improve teaching quality and student learning outcomes.
Ajan Keth concluded: “Teachers play a key role in the successful learning of students. The targeted outcome of this new school based CPD system is to make in-service teachers feel supported and confident with teaching the new curriculum. I want them to feel motivated to continue to improve their skills, so that their students will learn better.”