Districts will now liaise with the primary schools to distribute the new textbooks and teacher resource boxes to all Grade 2 schools before the start of the new school year

As soon as COVID-19 movement restrictions were lifted, a convoy of trucks loaded with the new Grade 2 textbooks and teacher resource boxes for all schools left the central warehouse in Vientiane. Priority was given to the trucks heading to the most remote and mountainous parts of the country. It took only 12 days to deliver to the 148 districts, before the start of the rainy season. This was a huge logistics challenge, and the Australian Government and the European Union have been supporting the Ministry of Education and Sports in every step of the primary curriculum renewal, including these deliveries. The trucks contained a total of 756,000 Grade 2 student textbooks for Lao Language, Moral Education, Sciences and the Environment subjects as well as 9,365 teacher resources boxes containing additional materials such as story books, decodable readers and busy pictures.

Three UNICEF posters to support COVID prevention in schools: “Protect yourself from COVID-19”, “Protect your family from COVID-19” and “7 steps of handwashing” were added in the delivery. The Grade 2 materials were developed by the Research Institute for Educational Sciences with the support of the Australian Government, the European Union and some funding from the United Sates Government. It is part of the National Primary Curriculum renewal which started with Grade 1 being gradually implemented in schools last September.

The refreshed curriculum is promoting a new pedagogical method with a focus on active learning. Students will learn through hands-on experience and practically applying their new knowledge. It represents a big change in teaching and learning approaches and Grade 2 teachers around the country will be trained in the newteaching methodology. A second convoy of trucks has started this week to deliver the Grade 2 teacher training materials and teacher guides and is expected to be completed by June 6. This second consignment also contains COVID-19 prevention and handwashing guidance posters for the training venues. The Ministry of Education and Sports is now organizing with the Provincial Education and Sports Services the planning and logistics to train 9,843 Grade 2 teachers and pedagogical advisors while respecting COVID-19 measures such as social distancing and only a limited number of people in a room. Yet another challenge for primary education, but it will allow Grade 2 children to start the next school year with new learning materials and teachers trained in the new pedagogy and with new teaching resources.