Last month, the teams of the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR (MoES) supported by the BEQUAL program were busy overseeing the packing of 159,205 storybooks, 683,645 decodable readers and 18,730 busy pictures into teacher resource boxes. The packing has just been completed in time and the trucks containing those resources as well as the new Grade 2 student textbooks are scheduled to depart the central warehouses in Vientiane once the restrictions have been eased. The materials will be delivered to the 148 District Education and Sports Bureau, which will then liaise with the primary schools to ensure that all resources will be ready for Grade 2 teachers and students at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
The MoES developed these new learning materials with the support of the Australian Government, with additional funding from the European Union and the United Sates Government. They will be used by Grade 2 teachers to improve reading, writing, listening, and speaking of their students. Each Grade 2 school will receive a box with 17 storybooks, 72 decodable readers, and a set of 2 busy pictures. Teachers will also receive teacher guides for the use of the decodable readers and the busy pictures.
The storybooks contain simple stories that teachers will read aloud to children. Research shows that reading aloud to children every day increases their ability to listen and develop comprehension. It also exposes students to new ideas and vocabulary, both of which contribute to reading development. The decodable readers help children to read independently. These readers are simple stories that keep children interested and motivated, and they are written using letters and words that children have already been taught in the classroom. This allows them to practice reading independently. Independent reading practice is critical for developing enthusiastic readers and lifelong learners. Each resource box also contains a set of busy pictures. These poster-sized pictures show common activities in rural and urban settings that teachers can use to initiate discussion, increase critical thinking skills, and develop comprehension.
All these new teaching and learning resources were designed to enable active learning which is at the core of the new curriculum pedagogical method. It will help more children, especially girls and those experiencing disadvantage, learn better and acquire life skills