On 5 June, H.E. Associate Professor Dr Kongsy Sengmany, Vice-minister of Education and Sports of Lao PDR officially announced the launch of the new National Primary Curriculum, with Grade 1 commencing in September 2019, at Thongkang Primary School, Sisattanak District.
The Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, H.E. Dr Sharman Stone, who made a special visit to Lao PDR for the launch, was the guest of honour at the ceremony. More than 200 guests attended the ceremony including Mme Khamphao Ernlavanh, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Australian Ambassador, Jean-Bernard Carrasco, the European Union Ambassador, Leo Faber, the United States Ambassador, Ms Rena Bitter, and representatives from the Ministry of Education and Sports, the eighteen Provincial Education and Sports Services, eight Teacher Training Colleges, other ministries, development partners, communities, school principals, teachers, and children.
For the last four years, with the support from Australia, the European Union, and USAID through the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) program, the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR (MoES) has been developing the new national primary curriculum along with new teaching and learning materials and a comprehensive in-service teacher training plan. The implementation of the new primary curriculum in classrooms will be progressive with one new grade per year, beginning in September 2019 with Grade 1 and ending in 2023-2024 with Grade 5.
Associate Professor Dr Kongsy Sengmany said “The new primary curriculum represents a major change in teaching and learning practices in Lao PDR. The new pedagogical approach, focusing on active learning, aims at helping children learn better. Students will learn by actively participating in the class, collaborating with each other, engaging with the learning materials, and experimenting through activities. There will be also
Dr Sharman Stone said “Australia and its partners are pleased to support the Ministry of Education and Sports to implement the new primary curriculum across the country. The new curriculum is an important first step to improving education outcomes for Lao children, particularly for those experiencing disadvantage such as girls, children with a disability and children from ethnic groups.”
“The success of the new curriculum will require good quality teaching and commitment from stakeholders at all levels across the country” the Ambassador said.
In September this year, all primary schools across the country will receive the revised teaching and learning materials. More than 800,000 primary students will receive new textbooks and more than 16,600 Grade 1 teachers, school principals, and pedagogical advisors will be trained in new teaching practices.
The new primary curriculum is a significant reform which introduces an orientation week for grade 1 students to familiarise children with school life, a new focus on active learning, enhancing inclusive teaching and learning and multigrade teaching, and a new student assessment methodology to measure acquisition of positive attitudes, knowledge and skills.
Following the gong ceremony announcing the official launch of the new curriculum, Associate Professor Dr. Kongsy and guests visited several displays on the educational resources created to support the new curriculum.
A representative from the Research Institute for Educational Sciences presented the new Grade 1 teaching and learning materials: Four new colourful and very visual Grade 1 textbooks, seven teacher guides including
The Department of Teacher Education described the in-service teacher training process. A national team of 60 Master Trainers and eighteen provincial teams of 611 Provincial trainers will train all Grade 1 teachers, primary school principals and pedagogical advisors in July and August. The
massive series of workshops, the various training materials and the on-going support tools that will accompany the teachers during the school-year, reflect the importance of providing well planned, quality in-service teacher training for the success of the new curriculum.
Lastly, the delegation was welcomed by the Information Media Centre of the Ministry of Education and Sports to watch a premiere screening of ‘Learn Together’. This fun and innovative educational TV program was specially designed to support Grade 1 Lao children with the new curriculum. It will be broadcasted on Lao National TV from August onwards. The ‘Learn Together Laos’ YouTube channel is already accessible.
The BEQUAL program is a AUD64 million education program supported by Australia in partnership with the European Union and USAID. It aims to improve learning outcomes of children in primary school particularly those experiencing disadvantage including girls, children with disability, and children from ethnic groups through development of the new primary curriculum, improving teaching quality and supporting the delivery of education at subnational levels.