This is the final year of the primary curriculum revision endeavour that started in 2018 with the support of Australia
The Research Institute of Educational Sciences (RIES) of the Ministry of Education and Sports of Laos PDR (MoES) held the Committee for the Approval of Curriculum and Instructional Materials (CACIM) Meeting for Primary Education Grade 5. This year is the last year of the effort to develop the new primary curriculum that has started in 2015 with the support of the Australian Government through the Basic Education Quality Access Laos (BEQUAL) Program.
The meeting was held on 25th January, at Kounzup Hootel in Chansavang Village (Thalard), Keoudom District, Vientiane Capital and chaired by H.E. Dr. Sisouk Vongvichit, Vice Minister of Education and Sports and H.E. Dan Heldon, Deputy Head of Mission of the Australian Embassy in Laos. The meeting was attended by Dr. Onekeo Nuannavong, Director of RIES along with Director Generals of the different MoES departments, Deans from National University of Laos, members of CACIM, BEQUAL experts and related sector staff.
Dr Sisouk said “Since 2015, the Ministry of Education and Sports has been developing a new improved national curriculum along with new teaching and learning materials for students and teachers. The objective of CACIM is to review and approve the original set of Grade 5 textbooks and teacher guides that will be printed and distributed to all primary schools in Lao PDR for the 2023-24 school year. This is an important milestone as this is the final year of the primary curriculum revision. I want to congratulate all the subject teams who worked tirelessly on this project since the beginning. I want to thank the Australian Embassy for their continuous support through BEQUAL. Completion of grade 5 represents achievement of ESSDP 9 intermediate outcome 1.1: improved and more inclusive curricula is implemented.”
For Grade 5, Australia supports the development, production, nationwide distribution, and training of teachers for Lao Language, Science and Environment and English subjects. Support has also been provided to other subject teams to finalize original materials and to build the capacity for design and layout team to crate the teaching materials. Other subjects including Moral Studies, Physical Education, Arts-Handicraft and Music are supported by the Lao Government.
“Australia is very pleased to be partnering with the Research Institute for Educational Sciences (RIES) and Ministry of Education and Sports to support the development of the new curriculum,” said Dan Heldon. “I believe we are all excited to see that the last primary grade of new materials will be provided to all students in Lao PDR. I am looking forward to seeing the primary students’ improved learning with the new curriculum and the new active learning pedagogy.”
The implementation of the new primary curriculum started in September 2019 with Grade 1 and is progressing with one new grade per year. The main difference in the new curriculum is a new pedagogical approach with a focus on active learning. It is a student-centred approach. Active learning emphasises the role students’ own thinking plays in learning success. The students will learn by doing activities, reflecting on their new knowledge, and applying skills in and outside the classroom.
The new teaching and learning resources are designed to promote this new pedagogy with activities for the students to process, practice and apply new learning. The new Grade 5 materials are carefully aligned with the previous grades’ materials. They build upon and extend content and topics covered in Grade 4 to reinforce existing knowledge and skills and promote progression in student learning in key topics within each subject from one grade to the next.
Every Grade 5 teacher, pedagogical advisor and trainer will receive a set of textbooks and teacher guides. The teacher guides include scripted lessons, guidance on assessment, how to use local resources and create extension activities for students. The guides also include strategies and activities to support teachers teaching non-Lao speaking students.
In addition, Grade 5 teachers will receive a variety of additional teaching and learning resources for their classroom. Science kits will be provided for Science and Environment lessons, and sets of flashcards with phonics, pictures and words as well as two large posters for sight words and phonics to support English instruction. Each Grade 5 teacher will receive a USB with teacher development videos on the new pedagogy and teaching techniques and audio tracks with English and Lao Language stories that could be used in the classroom. They will also receive brochures on curriculum overview, continuing professional development and textbook care posters to display in the village. Every Grade 5 student will receive a set of new textbooks for Lao Language, Science and Environment and English. Textbook designers have created colourful and attractive books with illustrations, photographs and page layout to help with understanding, attract attention and improve memory retention of young learners. The imagery used in the textbooks is more gender balanced and inclusive. The English textbooks include ethnic characters, Hmong, Khmu and Thai Dam and students with disabilities who appear in stories and in the classroom.
All these materials were developed and produced with the support of the Australian Government. Following CACIM approval, they will be printed and distributed with the support of the Australian Government. The other five subjects will be distributed by MoES as every year.
Grade 5 teachers and Pedagogical Advisors across the country will undertake training and receive support to familiarise themselves with the new curriculum and the additional learning resources. Recognizing the importance of Grade 5 as the final year in the primary education cycle, school principals will also participate in the training to improve their ability to provide teachers the support they require to implement the newly revised curriculum.
The meeting was held for 3 days (on 25th-27th January) with great achievements: CACIM approved the printing and use of the Grade 5 textbooks and teacher guides for the 8 subjects for the school year of 2023-2024 and made recommendations of adjustment for Lao Language, English, Science and Environment, Moral Studies, Social Studies, Physical Education and Arts-Handicraft. Then the team will edit the Grade 5 textbooks to be finalised and ready for printing in March 2023.