Lao Education and Sports Teaching and Learning Platform
Learning Never Stops: Investing in ICT-enabled Teaching and Learning to Strengthen Access to Education in Lao PDR
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, all the schools and education institutions in Lao PDR were temporarily closed to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. An estimated 1.4 million pre-primary to secondary students were affected by the school closures. To adapt to the changing circumstances, some schools began implementing remote learning options, however these were often established in an ad-hoc manner and many students and teachers were struggling. While life in Laos has now regained a semblance of normalcy and schools have been reopened, the pandemic has irrevocably highlighted the fundamental need to develop a teaching and learning platform for Lao children to ensure continuity of learning in the face of emergencies like COVID-19.
UNICEF and the European Union (EU) as part of Partnership for Strengthening the Education System in Lao PDR (PSES), and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), are currently supporting the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in developing a digital Lao Education and Sports Teaching and Learning Platform that serves two main purposes:
- Facilitating the (online and offline) learning of children and youth;
- Enhancing teaching by supporting the work of and professional development of teachers, principals, pedagogical advisors and ECE technical staff.
The digital teaching and learning platform, which is based on UNICEF’s global Learning Passport platform, aims to facilitate both online learnings for children and young people, with offline access and to use for blended learning. It also aims to simultaneously enhance teaching by supporting the work of and professional development of teachers, principals, pedagogical advisors and early childhood education (ECE) technical staff. In addition, it also aims to help improve digital literacy among Lao students and teachers and all its other users.
All primary and secondary level textbooks for core subjects such as mathematics, Lao language and science have already been uploaded to the platform and made digitally interactive. Moreover, international content like Khan Academy, University of Colorado’s PhET science simulations, and Microsoft’s digital literacy training package are also accessible on the platform and many have been translated to Lao language. An App for the platform has been deployed allowing for offline access. Further resources for students, parents, teachers, school principals and pedagogical advisors will be added to the platform in the months to come.
As part of the pilot testing of the platform, a Usability Testing Training Workshop for teachers and principals was organised on 29 January 2021 by MoES and UNICEF. The workshop aimed at providing hands-on training to teachers and principals from pilot schools on how to use the platform, gathering feedback on how the platform can be improved.
“I feel very proud to have taken part in this workshop on the use of this digital teaching and learning platform, which I believe will not only be extremely useful for our children’s learning, but also for teachers as well, especially during emergency situations like the COVID-19 pandemic where our mobility is restricted,” said Ms. Khounvilay Khemkitisake, principal of the Thongang Primary School and a participant of the Usability Testing Training Workshop for the Lao Education and Sports Teaching and Learning Platform ..
In the coming weeks the piloting of the platform will continue. This includes school visits by MoES and UNICEF to receive the first hand feedback on the functionalities of the platform, its usefulness for enriching teaching and learning and how it can be rolled out. A soft launch will follow and full national rollout is envisioned before the start of the new school year 2021-2022.