Australia’s support to primary education through the BEQUAL program will amount to AUD 28 million over four years (2022-2026)
On 16th November, H.E. Dr Sisouk Vongvichit, Vice-Minister of Education and Sports, Lao PDR officially announced the launch of Phase 2 of the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR program (BEQUAL) in the presence of H.E. Paul Kelly, Ambassador of Australia to Lao PDR.
Representatives from the different departments of the Ministry of Education and Sports, the three target Teacher Training Colleges, the seven target Provincial Education and Sports Services and development partners attended the ceremony.
H.E. Dr Sisouk Vongvichit said “Lao PDR and Australia share a mutual interest in ensuring all young children, especially those experiencing disadvantage, receive quality primary education. Since 2015, Australia has been supporting the Ministry of Education and Sports, through the first phase of BEQUAL, with the development and nationwide implementation of the new primary curriculum, and the design and implementation of teacher training and professional development activities. On behalf of the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR, I am delighted to be here today to officially launch the BEQUAL Phase 2 program in the presence of H.E. Paul Kelly, Ambassador of Australia to Lao PDR.”
H.E. Paul Kelly, Ambassador of Australia to Lao PDR congratulated the Ministry of Education and Sports, particularly the primary school teachers who have worked so hard on the BEQUAL program and said “Phase 1 of this program has encompassed the development of the new, student-centred national primary curriculum, the development of accompanying teaching and learning materials, and the training of teachers nationwide on this new curriculum, with its focus on engaging students through activities, hands on experience and practical application. It has been an enormous achievement, and a wonderful example of collaboration across so many levels of government.”
BEQUAL Phase 2 will finalise the implementation of the new primary curriculum by completing the development and implementation of Grade 5 in school year 2023-2024. The program will also continue the development of the Spoken Lao Program to support non-Lao speaking students in remote primary schools. BEQUAL Phase 2 will gradually shift its main focus to providing teacher professional development and training. Phase 2 will also focus on ensuring gender and disability inclusive education approaches.
H.E. Dr Sisouk Vongvichit said: “Quality teaching is a vital part of improving learning outcomes for all children in Lao PDR. I encourage teachers to engage in continuous professional development activities throughout the school year to develop their confidence and teaching skills to use the curriculum effectively. All teachers will require ongoing support from their principals and education staff from the district, province, and teacher training colleges throughout the school year as they navigate the curriculum and encounter teaching challenges.”
Following the gong ceremony announcing the official launch of the Phase 2 of BEQUAL, H.E. Dr Sisouk Vongvichit and guests visited several displays prepared by the Research Institute for Educational Sciences and the Department of Teacher Education showcasing the educational and teacher training resources created to support the new curriculum during the first phase of the BEQUAL program.
Then the delegation was invited to observe Grade 1 to 4 classrooms being taught Lao Language, Sciences and Environment, and English subjects. Following the new pedagogical approach, the young students were actively participating in the class, collaborating with each other, engaging with the learning materials, and learning through experimentation.
H.E. Paul Kelly concluded that “Education changes lives. Education contributes to stronger communities and greater prosperity. That is why we are committed to good quality primary education for all Lao children, no matter their circumstances, no matter their gender.”