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Australia adds new chapter to support for reading, education

Australia is continuing to assist teacher skill development in Laos and provide storybooks as part of efforts to promote reading among children in rural areas.
This was reported during an event to celebrate International Women’s Day held on Friday at the Km 3 warehouse of the Ministry of Education and Sports.
The gathering was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Education and Sports, Mrs Khanthaly Siriphongphanh, and the Australian Ambassador to Laos, Mr Jean-Bernard Carrasco.  Three primary school teachers from Luang Namtha’s remote highlands and ministry officials also attended.

The event aimed to celebrate International Women’s Day and promote the importance of education, while providing the three inspirational women teachers with the opportunity to learn about the supply chain for new Grade 2 learning materials at the ministry’s refurbished Km 3 warehouse.
Ms Meetou Leaxer, Ms Keo Laoly and Ms Boualy Keovilay are three motivated and highly committed Akha teachers from Sing district in Luang Namtha province.
They are a new generation of women who have decided to take an active role in the promotion of education and who are role models in their communities.
They are part of 350 bright young people from remote and rural villages who received a scholarship from the Basic Education Quality and Access in the Lao PDR (BEQUAL) programme led by the Ministry of Education and Sports with the support of the Australian government and the European Union to attend a teacher training college for three to four years.
Khou Meetou, Keo and Boualy graduated in June 2018 and June 2019 respectively. They are now qualified primary school teachers back in their communities in some of the most educationally disadvantaged districts of Laos. As part of this year’s International Women’s Day celebration with the theme “I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights”,  Mrs Khanthaly Siriphongphanh and Mr Jean-Bernard Carrasco invited the three teachers to accompany them to the Ministry’s Km 3 warehouse to pack the first batch of the new Grade 2 teaching and learning materials.
Since 2015, the Ministry of Education and Sports with support from Australia, the European Union, and USAID has been developing a new national primary curriculum along with fresh teaching and learning materials.
The rollout of the new primary curriculum in classrooms began in September 2019 with Grade 1 and will end in 2023-2024 with Grade 5.
A comprehensive in-service teacher training plan has been developed and is being implemented by the ministry nationwide to ensure teachers are aware of the new materials and how to use them.
Some 159,205 storybooks, 683,645 decodable readers and 18,730 busy picture books will be packed into teacher resources boxes and delivered to every Grade 2 classroom before the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
In April, the new Grade 2 student textbooks for three subjects and teacher guides for six subjects will be delivered to the warehouse for packing.
The curriculum materials will then be delivered to 148 District Education and Sports Bureaus for distribution to every school in the country.
In 2019, with funding from the Australian government and European Union, a section of the ministry’s warehouse was refurbished, providing an improved electrical system, new lightening, storage racks, workbenches and a resealed and waterproof floor, at a cost of AU$48,500.

By Viengdavanh Banphahaksa
(Latest Update March 10, 2020)

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