Responding to the COVID-19 situation, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and Australia have continued to pivot the delivery of the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) program activities. Whenever feasible, trainings, curriculum or training writing workshops, meetings and consultations are being organised online or using a blended face-to-face and online model with all COVID-19 prevention measures in place. By reducing travel and overnight stays, this approach also results in significant time and cost efficiencies.
Following the success of the first online review of the Grade 3 Provincial trainer teams in February this year, the review of the Provincial Trainer teams for Grade 4 was again organised online on 23-24 November 2021. 60 representatives from 18 Provincial Education and Sports Services, 8 TTC and relevant MoES departments gathered at the PESS or TTC in each of the 18 provinces for a 2-day online workshop connected by video-conference equipment donated by the Australian Government.
The workshop was opened by Mr. Keth Phanhlack, Director General of the Department of Teacher Education (DTE).
“The purpose of the workshop is to review and update the 18 Provincial Trainer teams responsible for the in-service training on the new improved primary curriculum and continuing professional development support for primary teachers.” said Mr Keth. “Providing well-planned, quality in-service teacher training is critical to the implementation of the new improved primary curriculum. And quality trainers are integral to the success of any in-service teacher training and development activity”
During the 2-day workshop, DTE, PESS and TTC representatives reflected on the challenges, successes and lessons learned during previous teacher training. Then, the PESS and TTC reviewed their training teams with input and direction from DTE who oversees the process.
“In the review process, I encourage you to focus on the performance of your team to ensure you have a strong and effective Provincial Trainer team that is able to deliver high quality training and support teachers with the Grade 4 curriculum implementation” said Mr Keth. “You will also need to consider the gender equality in your teams as we want a greater representation of female trainers to reduce the gender gap”.
The Provincial Trainer teams were formed in November 2018 to train primary teachers on the new improved primary curriculum and to provide ongoing support to teachers. The criteria for the selection were based on the characteristics of good trainers such as primary teaching experience, specific subject knowledge, experience in training, commitment to improve teacher quality, and to support teachers in the classroom. The selection committees were also asked to consider gender balance.
“This year a gender equality target was identified for each province with the aim of increasing the number of female team members to 50% or as close as possible.” said Mr Keth.
Across the provincial trainer teams, only 40% of trainers are women before the review, with some provincial teams as low as 27% (Xiengkhouang) and others as high as over 50% (Champassak). More focus was put on gender this year to achieve parity. During the online review, 14 provinces have already increased their proportion of females in their training teams and 4 provinces have 50% of higher female representations. The provincial committees will finalise the review of their team by the beginning of next year and will continue to aim for gender parity while keeping in mind professional efficiency and pedagogical skills of the trainers they select. The training teams and selection committees reaching the gender target will receive a tee-shirt “I support women’s equality” to promote their achievement. The trainer teams are very diverse: Members come from all across MoES, covering national, provincial, district and school levels. The teams are reviewed regularly to ensure that all team members have the required technical capacity, demonstrate the commitment needed to participate in delivery of teacher training and ongoing capacity development activities and are available to participate in training and deliver the training.
In June 2022, the 600 Provincial Trainers will receive a 5-day training on the new Grade 4 curriculum materials, and they will then train the approximately 9,700 Grade 4 teachers and Pedagogical Advisers in July-August 2022.