I conducted my internship in the Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES) in Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (PDR) for 6 weeks, starting from August 25 to October 4, 2014. During the internship, I was attached to the Department of Planning under the supervision of Dr.Bounpanh Xaymountry, who is the Director General. The internship is within my research interest, which is focused on disparity of internal efficiency among districts in primary education in Lao PDR.
My task in the Planning Department comprised of three main activities namely: (1) assisted policy research being conducted by education experts in MOES; (2) participated in the various activities related to the implementation of education projects by MOES and other international aid agencies; and (3) conducted analysis using education database in Lao PDR.
For the first activity, I assisted in analyzing the National Assessment of Student Learning Outcome III (ASLO III) data in order to understand the disparity of internal efficiency in primary education in Lao PDR.ASLO started in 2007 to assist policy research being conducted by education experts in MOES and to facilitate various activities related to the implementation of education projects by MOES and other International Aid Agencies such as A (mention which one?) and B. ASLO is meant to provide valid and reliable data about the teaching-learning environment in particular about the achievement of math, Lao language, and world around us (WAU). By comparing ASLO results and results from household survey data, it is useful to understand learning characteristics of children and develop education in Lao PDR. The results through the first edition to third edition show low ability in mathematics. The main reason is poor content of materials used for learning and teaching skills.
For the second activity, I visited five primary schools in Vientiane Capital in order to get first hand experience of what a primary school setting in Lao PDR looks like. In one of the schools, I met a female principal who happens to have been selected by the government of Lao PDR to make math materials for whole countries. The contents of materials are not difficult for children but the sentences are difficult, and she said she does not think they can understand. Her school is a model school in Lao PDR because she brought new teaching methods that help all children to understand math easily. As a result of these new teaching methods, children are flooding into the school and this has become a big problem for the school administration. I was impressed when she said; “I am worried that we will not be able to provide good quality of education if the numbers of students in classrooms increase. However, we do not reject children who want to learn”
For the third activity, I participated in a workshop organized by Japanese MEXT UNESCO Project. The purpose of the workshop was to review the training manual for education finance and administration in ASEAN countries. It was held from September 20st to 22nd, and Professor Keiichi Ogawa at Kobe University was responsible of this training. The participants were provincial-level education officers from Lao PDR who were selected by the central MOES. I clearly remember one of the officers said “we correct data every year but never analyzed these like today. This workshop was a good opportunity to disseminate information from district level.”
Finally, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my academic adviser, Professor Keiichi Ogawa, who gave me this precious internship opportunity, and my supervisor in MOES, Dr.Bounpanh Xaymountry, who extended me warm support through the whole period of my internship. My special thanks also go to Ms.Phestsourine Norasingh, who provided me with guidance and instructions on daily basis, and all the staff in Department of Planning in MOES. I also would like to give my profound thanks to JICA officers in Lao PDR and everyone who kindly gave me his or her precious time during my survey.
(Authored by Masahito MOTOKAWA)