Learning from highly effective schools in Lao PDR
Ministry of Education and Sports and UNICEF research looks into why certain schools outperform others in similar contexts to learn from their “good practices” to inform policy and practice
Lao PDR has made steady progress in expanding access to education during the last decade. However, a key challenge remains in enhancing the quality of education by ensuring all children in school are learning at the expected standards. The evidence suggests that many schools in Lao PDR are not realising this objective.
Despite the challenges, there is evidence showing that some schools in Lao PDR are doing particularly well, with their students outperforming those in other schools in similar contexts and with similar resources, even in the most disadvantaged areas of the country. By identifying these “positive deviant schools” i.e. highly effective schools and the “good practices” behind their success, important lessons for improving teaching and learning can be drawn. In other words, this research is investigating already existing locally sourced and cost-effective solutions to improve education delivery in Lao PDR.
Therefore, UNICEF has agreed to support MoES in co-creating a research on positive deviant schools in Lao PDR. The research will help identify the policies through which MoES can incentivize the implementation of the aforementioned “good practices” to help improve teaching and learning in all schools – particularly those most disadvantaged, while promoting a more efficient management of the school system.
This research is part of UNICEF’s Data Must Speak (DMS) initiative (co-funded by the GPE/IDRC KIX initiative, Hewlett Foundation, and UNICEF education thematic fund) and its efforts, under the EU-funded Partnership for Strengthening the Education System of Lao PDR (PSES), to enhance the capacity of MoES (at all levels of the system) in data management and utilization for monitoring, planning, and budgeting processes. This project is also part of a larger, international new DMS research programme on positive deviant schools led by the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti (in Italy) involves seven other countries across Africa and Asia (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nepal, Niger, Togo and Zambia). As such, the programme presents a promising opportunity for peer learning between countries on the use of data for informing decision-making at all levels of the system.
The methodology and instruments for this study were reviewed by representatives from different MoES departments, the National University of Laos and UNICEF during a technical workshop held in Vientiane Capital from 14 - 15 October 2020. The research in Lao PDR is expected to be concluded by mid-2021.