Between 9 and 13 July, the first cohort of 212 student teachers from rural and remote areas supported by the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Australian Government and the European Union successfully completed their study at three Teacher Training Colleges – Luang Namtha, Salavan, and Savannakhet. The second cohort of 149 student teachers are expected to complete their study in 2019. All of these 361 student teachers, 235 of whom are female, were selected by the Ministry of Education and Sports together with local education authorities to participate in the scholarship program. They will each be deployed to their homes in remote and rural locations where their deep understanding of the language and knowledge of local culture, will be of great benefit in teaching at their local primary schools.
At Savannakhet Teacher Training College, the Send-off Ceremony for Graduate Student Teachers took place on 13 July. It was chaired by the Acting Director General of the Department of Teacher Education, Mr Ket Phanhlack, the First Secretary of the Australian Embassy in Lao PDR, Ms Katie Smith, the Director of Khammouane Provincial Education and Sports Services, Mr Sihai Keothaithin, the Deputy Director of Savannakhet Provincial Education and Sports Services, Mr Sioudone Thongsouvanh, and the Director of Savannakhet Teacher Training College, Mr Latsami Phaxaysi.
At this inaugural ceremony, Mr Ket Phanhlack advised the new graduates that “Graduation from the college is only the beginning of the journey. Teachers should always keep learning and improving themselves to be good role models both professionally and personally, and deliver quality teaching and learning. The ultimate goal for teachers is to enable children to achieve basic literacy and numeracy skills.”
“Mr Ket’s words are meaningful, important, and are a good lesson for us. We will take his advice as the direction to improve the quality of teaching and learning in our local communities,” said Ms Lamngern Yengkhamchanthatvong, on behalf of the graduate students at Savannakhet Teacher Training College.
“The Australian Government is very pleased to be working in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports and the European Union to provide scholarships for teachers across Lao PDR. We believe that these new teachers will create change in their community and become a role models for the next generation. Their understanding of the language and culture of the communities will enable more children to participate and stay in school.” said Ms. Katie Smith, First Secretary of the Australian Embassy in Lao PDR.
To further encourage these future teachers to be ready to teach in their local communities, the graduates were presented with teaching toolkits including teacher uniforms, teacher guides, tote bags, and umbrellas during the ceremony.
BEQUAL, a program led by the Lao Ministry of Education and Sports, with support from the Australian Government and the European Union, aims to help more girls and boys, especially those experiencing disadvantage, complete good quality primary education, achieving literary, numeracy and life skills.