Laos: New textbooks for 800,000 primary school students

By Keoviengkhone Bounviseth / Vientiane TimesMore than 800,000 primary school students across the country will use new textbooks in September as part of the new national primary school curriculum that is being rolled out over the coming years.

This year, more than 16,600 Grade 1 teachers, school principals and pedagogical advisors will receive training in teaching the new curriculum. All primary school teachers will have access to the teaching and learning resources that background the training.

The Education and Sports Ministry has worked with the Australian government, the European Union and USAID for the past four years to develop the new curriculum, which is a major component of the Basic Education Quality and Access in Laos program.

The new curriculum is significantly different. For Grade 1 students this year it includes an orientation week so that children have a chance to familiarize themselves with their new learning environment.

It has a particular focus on active learning and providing an inclusive classroom experience for students. A new student assessment process will measure the acquisition of positive values, knowledge and skills.

A ceremony to launch the new curriculum took place in Vientiane last week.

Officials from line ministries, the Australian Embassy to Laos, the European Union, the U.S. Embassy to Laos and representatives of provincial education and sports sectors attended the ceremony.

A representative from the Research Institute for Educational Sciences presented the new Grade 1 teaching and learning materials along with four new Grade 1 textbooks that will be used throughout the year.

Seven teacher guides that include scripted lessons and suggestions for utilizing local knowledge were also presented. The teacher guides aim to assist educators to work well in multi-grade classes or with non-Lao speaking students. A set of age-appropriate storybooks, flash cards, posters and microscopes will also be available. Each Grade 1 student will receive a complete set of textbooks and each Grade 1 class will have a teacher resource pack.

A national team of 60 master trainers and 18 provincial teams of 611 provincial trainers will train all Grade 1 teachers, primary school principals and pedagogical advisors in July and August this year.

The series of workshops, the various training materials and the ongoing support tools that will accompany the teachers during the school year means the new curriculum will have every chance of success. Speech

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