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   Lao PDR
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5. MAIN EFA EVENTS AND ACTIONS SINCE 1990

5. 1. Main events

The main EFA events and action since 1990 included, the promulgation and the implementation of the Lao PDR Constitution in 1991 (Article 19) relative to compulsory education (Decree on Compulsory primary Education No. 138/PM/96 Dated 19/7/96). The authorization of the establishment of private schools in different level of education (Decree on the establishment of Private Schools No. 58/CM Dated 29/9/90 & Decree on Private Education Sector No. 64/PM Dated: 14/8/95). The Prime Minister Decree for the increase of the salary for teachers teaching in rural and remote areas (Decree No. 237/PM Dated 21/12/98). The reform has been undertaken in the field of primary education, teacher training, EMIS and planning with the implementation of loan from World Bank and Asian Development Bank and grant aid from the government of Switzerland and Norway. Improvement of basic education project in remote rural areas, (, reduce repetition and drop-out rate, vocational training for youth who drop out, in-service teacher upgrading) supported by UNICEF/AIDAB, CWS, CRS, (increase ethnic minority girls’ enrolment and basic education) supported by AusAID/ADB, Vocational training and literacy for minority women in 7 provinces supported by UNESCO, UNDP.

5. 2. Co-operation in EFA

Internal co-operations

External Assistance

5. 3. UN and Multilateral Co-operations.

5.3.1 Basic Education Programme (UNICEF/MOE)

In 1991, the Government of Lao PDR and UNICEF agreed to a 5-year cooperative programme (1992-96) on Basic Education. This programme initiated a concentrated thrust of education development in the rural and minority districts of 8 provinces where education access and quality were particularly low. Two key projects, Network for Teacher Upgrading and Basic Education for Rural/Minority Children, formed the core of the Basic Education Programme. The programme was evaluated in October 1995;the following were the major findings of the evaluation:

Project Achievements

Geographic coverage: With UNICEF/AUSAID support, the project has from 8 districts in 8 provinces in 1992 to 19 districts in 9 provinces in 1995. The teacher upgrading project also has been implemented in another 4 districts of 3 provinces with support from Church World Service and Catholic Relief Services. To date the project has covered 46 districts in 13 provinces. Beginning in 1997, Redd Barna supported the project in 2 districts in Luangprabang. 2 districts in Bolikhamxay, 2 districts in Khmmouane and will extend to Saysomboune.

Personnel development: Between 1992 and 1995, the project trained 2,425 persons of which 134 are trainers/supervisors at the province, district, and Teacher Upgrading Centres level; 370 are local supervisors from the school or cluster level; and another 1,921 are untrained teachers. By the end of the 1996/97 school year another 600 personnel were trained, making the number of total teachers, trainers, and supervisors trained reach 3200 people. To date, more than 90 percent of the untrained/unqualified teachers have benefited from the teacher upgrading project.

Training modules: A complete set of training modules has been produced. The training modules include Foundation Studies, Applied Curriculum, Advanced Studies, and accompanying in-school activities for the teacher upgrading programme.

Monitoring and supervision system: A regular monitoring and supervision system has been set in place at every level. Supervisors and local supervisors provide supervisory and professional support to the teachers. The project is also reviewed annually.

Sharing of experiences: In most project areas, teachers both within and outside the programme have been sharing experiences learned from the upgrading course (lesson planning, training modules, materials, and teaching aids) for use in classroom teaching.

School upgrading and water and sanitation: Of the 700 target schools, 174 have received support for reconstruction or upgrading, 95 have received support for construction of simple water systems, and 20 have had simple toilets installed. In all school upgrading activities, local contributions accounted for 40-50 percent of total costs.

Other project inputs: The target schools have been provided with textbooks through the World Bank Project. More than 800 library bookcases have been distributed for use by teachers and children. Manual silk-screen printer set was provided by Japan Sotosho Relief Committee (JSRC). Stationary and classroom supplies. Transport equipment. The project provided 96 motorcycles for province, district, and upgrading centres to facilitate supervisions of the teachers. Eighty bicycles have been provided to local supervisors to supervise teachers in the satellite schools. Two vehicles have been provided to the Ministry for overall programme monitoring and supervision.

Project Impact

Teachers trained were more active, had higher morale, and possessed confidence to put their training into practice. They shared experiences from the training with other teachers. The children endorsed the view that the project had improved their enjoyment of the school and they felt learning was easier. Trainers, teachers, and community members alike agreed that the children came to school more regularly.

The MOE is encouraged to give particular attention to the feasibility of extending the Teacher Upgrading Network project and use the Teacher Upgrading Centres as the primary mechanism for delivery of in-service teacher training. The Teacher Upgrading Centres are one of the least expensive programmes, yet they appear to be one of the most effective. The programme kept costs low by using master teachers already in the provinces as trainers, keeping most of the programme administration and delivery of training located in each province, and providing school incentives that meet other educational needs (roofing sheets, etc.). The programme has provided a valuable arrangement for ensuring adequate oversight of field operations. The programme offers a model that should be considered in designing future in-service initiatives.

Total funding applied: $1,350,300 US (1992-95).

5.3.2 Boarding School for Ethnic Minority Children

Four boarding schools for ethnic minority children are being built in the following four provinces: Savanakhet, Champassack, Oudomxay, and Sekong. This boarding school construction was supported by the Government of Vietnam.

5.3.3 Education for Ethnic Minorities UNDP/LAO/92/01

Project was intended to address problems that disadvantaged groups, especially those in the highlands, encountered. The project demonstrated that these disadvantaged groups do not participate in education at an acceptable level and, thus are unable to fully participate in or contribute to the Lao society or economy. This failure to participate or contribute is a result of remoteness of dwellings, insufficient transport infrastructure, and fragmented ethnic groups, and is evidenced by a lack of participation in the existing deficient primary education. The project justification stated that the education presently offered is not relevant to the community or to individual needs, nor is it of sufficient quality. These factors ensure that disadvantaged groups have little incentive to participate in education, even when it is available. The causes of the lack or relevance and the poor quality were that the present educational system is geared towards main population groups and an international formal approach, teacher s are poorly educated, have low status and receive little pay. The evidence of the low quality of education includes a high incidence of illiteracy, repetition of grades, significant rates of drop-outs, and low attendance.

The following were anticipated at the end of the project:

The project strategy must be emphasized that this is a pilot project and the education activities should always follow from development activities, when education is seen by the pilot project communities to have a positive impact on development. The development-education must always build on, and not conflict with, existing community and ethnic structures, practices, and institutions. Community responsibility is seen as key; the individual villages gradually will be required to assume more and more responsibility for development-education in their community. The scope of the project is larger than literacy, which has little relevance per se. The project will further skills development, which will in turn facilitate integration of these most disadvantaged groups into the monetarised sector of the economy, thus improving both their social-economic position and their overall health situation.

The project stated that the direct recipients were the Ministry of Education, Department of Education, and Department of Ethnology.

The project had the following primary activities:

Project funding: $661,400 US.

5.3.4 Women’s Literacy and Basic Skills Training (UNESCO/504/Lao/11)

The project was launched in 1993 by the Department of Non-formal Education funded by NORAD with technical assistance from Ecoles sans Frontieres (ESF), following the pilot project implemented in Luangnamtha in 1991-92. The project was expanded to the following 8 provinces: Luangnamtha, Xiengkhuang, Luangprabang, Xayaboury, Vientiane Province, Champasack, Salavanh, and Xaysomboon. The project had the following general objectives:

The external evaluation of the project was carried out in April, May 1998. The external evaluation had the following findings:

The main activities benefiting the learners at grass-roots level, were mainly the skills training, which is limited to sewing and weaving and literacy. Only later on, when these two main skills were not as appropriate as intended, the NFE provided other training skills such as food processing and some agricultural activities, such as grafting and animal husbandry. Post-literacy activities were then added such as topics on health and sanitation. Between 1994 and 1997 1160 women were trained in sewing and 854 women were trained in weaving. The incentive of the project for the learners was the revolving loan fund of 65 US Dollars per capita after the completion of the training. Learners completing the course could then fill in the form to apply for the revolving loan funds.

Comments formulated about the issue of training for income generation in the mid-term evaluation stated "the implementation of the project seems to be too top-down and not enough trainee-centered: only the same two topics are developed throughout the centres in an almost systematic manner, when ethnic minorities or women in some villages may have other traditions which are apperently not taken into account. In this area the project should be more flexible and opened to diversity. It is necessary to pay greater attention to the local reality, habits and tradition and to better integrate them in the proposed training, in an attempt to offer the most appropriate answer to fulfil the actual needs of the beneficiaries."

Beside the establishment of 3 regional NFE centers and training of 3 personnel for their master degrees in Thailand, and study tours abroad for NFE 38 times/personnel, the internal evaluation of the project held on 22-24 March 1999 identified more the achievement as follows:

The main problems encountered in the project as reported by the NFE department included:

However, the external evaluation concluded "Moreover, keeping in mind that non-formal education is a recent concept in Lao PDR, it is essential to underline that the great part of the experience gained at all levels in this area in this country is a major output of project 504/LAO/11."

Project funding: 1,008,130 US Dollars.

5.3.5 Distance Education (UNESCO Paris)

As an extension for Women Literacy and Basic Skill training UNESCO Paris proposed the Distance Education Project 504/LAO/12.

Project funding: 1,620,100 US Dollars.

5.3.6 Education Quality Improvement Project (World Bank)

The project main objectives were to revise and upgrade the previous primary and lower secondary curriculum and rewrite the content to complement with the national socio-economic development plan. Print the new curriculum textbooks and teacher manuals for the Ministry of Education to distribute to schools throughout the country. Provide in-service training for the teachers, education supervisors in implementing the new curriculum. Provide training and support to the administrative staff in monitoring and planning education activities by improving the management of education statistics.

The project recognizes the problem of ethnic minority education as stated in the project Section 3.2, (a), (v): a study on Lao language teaching and the schooling of ethnic minorities but no action has been taken and not likely to happen for the project is finishing this year. It was stated in paragraph 3.19: Study on Lao Language Teaching: Recognizing the special situation of ethnic minority students, the project would support to: (a) evaluate classroom practices in schools catering to ethnic minorities with respect to the use (or non-use) of textbooks written in Lao, and determine the need to provide other instructional materials or supplies to these students if warranted (which would require adjustments to the number of Lao books to be printed and distributed); (b) develop appropriate strategies for teaching Lao to students whose mother tongue is not Lao; and (c) identify other interventions or policy options for the education of ethnic minorities.

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