The two-week internship at FHI360 in Washington, D.C. was short but fulfilling. As I look back on it, my mind is filled with uplifting memories. I made the right decision...
I had an opportunity to conduct my summer internship at the Ministry of Education and Sport (MoES) in Lao PDR from September 11th to 29th, 2017. During the internship, I was placed in the Department of Planning under the supervision of Dr. Bounpanh Xaymountry. I conducted my research on the repetition and Progressive Promotion Policy in the primary schools in Vientiane Capital as part of the internship, in order to collect qualitative data about my research. I had the following 3 main activities; 1) conducted interviews to officers in Department of General Education in MoES, 2) conducted interviews to teachers, school principal, and parents in primary schools, 3) conducted interviews in World Bank, UNICEF, JICA, Australian Aid of Laos Office.
For the first activity, I conducted interviews to officers in Department of General Education in MoES. During the interview to the Deputy Director of this department, I asked about Progressive Promotion Policy from the aspects of the official objectives, current situation of implementation, their implications on this policy and issues. Moreover, I asked for officers in this department about Progressive Promotion Policy from the aspects of same questions. They answered that “There are issues of monitoring and implementation in primary schools. We really aspire to provide the environment which students are able to have an opportunity for quality education”. Through these interviews, I was able to expand my understanding for the situation of Progressive Promotion Policy from the objectives to implementation as well as the strong passion of officers of MoES for providing quality education to students by improving this policy. I was really impressed and felt importance of this policy for them by the enthusiasm of the officers of MoES and I became enthusiastic to conduct my research about Progressive Promotion Policy more and more.
For the second activity, I conducted interviews to teachers, school principal and parents about the causes of repetition and the situation of implementation of Progressive Promotion Policy by visiting 6 public schools in Vientiane Capital. Through the interviews, I was able to enhance my understanding for 3 aspects below.
First, I learned the process of the research in the field in Lao PDR. In order to conduct the research in primary schools, I needed to prepare official letters from MoES to province, district and village offices. In addition to that, I was necessary to explain about my research for these offices directly by myself again and again for 3 weeks.
Secondly, during interviews, I was able to learn about the techniques of interviews with interpreter in the field. In the first interview, I spent 1 hour for 4 questions because of the structure, ambiguity and word choices of the questions. I had prepared again and again, but I could learn many more necessary skills from expression and tone of speaking of the interviewee, and atmosphere of the field. Through the interviews, I could strengthen my skills of interview and adapting myself to different situations.
Thirdly, I was able to listen to real voices in primary schools. One of teachers said that ” I have never heard the word of Progressive Promotion Policy”. Although primary schools are in the capital city of Lao PDR, schools do not know the objectives of the policy which they are introducing to students. Moreover, I could enhance my understanding about the situation of policy from the sight of teachers, school principals and parents as well as I could compare these aspects with MoES side.
For the third activity, I conducted interviews in World Bank, UNICEF, JICA, Australian Aid of Laos Office. I was impressed from the interview to education specialist who have approached to education of Lao PDR for more than 20 years, he said that “although Lao PDR still need to have cooperation with international organizations, the focus of them have gradually shifted to African countries due to the baseline of decision of distribution of funds”. Through the interviews, I was able to expand my understanding for the role of international organizations. The possibility of developing the situation of education in developing countries strongly depends on the trend of international development such as MDGs and SDGs.
Throughout the internship in the MoES of Lao PDR, I was able to enhance my understanding for the situation of primary education, and was able to learn the current situation on Progressive Promotion Policy.
I sincerely appreciate Dr. Bounpanh Xaymountry and all of staff in Department of Planning, MoES for receiving me as their intern and for providing with heartfelt support throughout the internship. I also would like to express my deepest gratitude to Professor Keiichi Ogawa, who provided me with this wonderful opportunity.
Authored by Taiga Yano (Master Student)