Schools for Asia - Stories from the field

Grade 5 students is reading book at Tahouak Primary School in Saravane Province
UNICEF Laos/2019/Bart Verweij
18 August 2020

Pedagogical advisors are improving the quality of education

The Ministry of Education and Sports, the European Union, and UNICEF are working together under the framework of the Partnership to Strengthen the Education System (PSES) so as to ensure that every child in Lao PDR has access to a quality education. By improving governance of the education system, promoting equitable access to and completion of basic education, and improving education quality, the objective of PSES is to ensure that every child learns and develops to his or her full potential, thus contributing to the development of the country.

Chanthaphone has been teaching Grade 5 at Tahouak Primary School in Saravane province for two years, where he is also the school principal. He now has a new outlook on teaching thanks to the support of a pedagogical advisor trained under PSES.

“The most important thing I took from the support was to prepare myself. Whether it is math, history, or any other subject, I had to learn to make a teaching plan.” Chanthaphone began to develop classes that would be more interesting and engaging for his students and, just as importantly, classes that he himself found interesting. Thanks to the training, pedagogical advisors are now able to address poor teaching and learning practices in the classroom and the negative consequences these have for student participation and learning.

“The most important thing I took from the support was to prepare myself. Whether it is math, history, or any other subject, I had to learn to make a teaching plan.”

Chanthaphone, School Principal, Tahouak Primary School, Saravane province, Lao PDR

Somkit Matthavong is the pedagogical advisor responsible for working with the Tahouak school and its cluster, where Chanthaphone is also the cluster lead. School clusters are designed to serve as on-the-job professional peer-to-peer support networks for teachers and principals of nearby schools. As a cluster, they brainstorm to improve teaching skills and work together to come up with solutions to problems.

Somkit visits all his target schools at least twice each month, during which time he helps teachers to prepare lesson plans, develope teaching and learning materials, and improve their methods to engage students in learning actively. After working with Somkit, Chanthaphone has seen a real change in how students engage in the class. “Before, students were missing school. Now we see higher attendance rates,” he confirms. With the assistance of the pedagogical advisors, Chanthaphone and other teachers can now identify students with low learning performance.

Chanthaphone is determined to share his success story with other schools across the province. Two other local primary schools are already sending school committee members to meet with him and observe classes. “They are really interested in what they are seeing, and I’m sure they will change their approach as well,” he declares firmly. “This is a future vision, it’s not something that can just be stopped.”