Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR
Coffey, A Tetra Tech Company, is helping more girls and boys, especially those experiencing disadvantage, complete high-quality primary education and achieve literary, numeracy, and life skills through the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) program.
In many places in Lao PDR, achieving a quality education can be a significant challenge. In this complex, diverse country, children come from a range of backgrounds, often from remote regions with distinct languages and with no family educational history.
Lao PDR has made significant progress in improving access to primary education over the past decade, reaching a primary enrolment rate of 98.8 percent in 2015-2016. Despite this achievement, high dropout rates, poor school facilities, and lack of teaching and learning resources limit education outcomes.
Tetra Tech is managing the BEQUAL program, which is led by the Lao Government, with support from the Australian Government and the European Union.
BEQUAL’s approach focuses on partnerships—with governments and ministries, non-government organizations, teachers, students, partners, and stakeholders—to deliver results focused on five key areas: policy, planning, and coordination; increased participation; teacher education; teaching and learning resources; and school infrastructure.
BEQUAL is supporting the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) to achieve improved educational outcomes though effective teaching, better resourcing, and increased participation. Tetra Tech is helping teachers provide quality teaching so children learn and perform better at school. We developed a revised Primary Pre-Service Teacher Education Curriculum Framework for Lao PDR primary teaching standards, while BEQUAL’s Ethnic Teacher Scholarship Program is supporting the training of 365 ethnic teachers who will return to their remote villages in some of the most educationally disadvantaged communities. In addition, 54 teacher educators have received scholarships to upgrade their qualifications to bachelor, master, and doctoral levels.
We are improving educational resources available at a national, provincial, community, and school level, providing a more equitable learning environment for all children. Tetra Tech drafted and piloted revised Grade 1 curriculum materials and have rehabilitated more than 300 schools to improve classrooms and infrastructure, including water, sanitation, and hygiene systems in 40 locations. Through the BEQUAL program, 171 schools have received recycled WASH facilities.
Through BEQUAL more girls and boys, especially disadvantaged children, are gaining access to primary school. Children also need to arrive at school ready to learn. We work in collaboration with non-government organizations, teachers, and communities to encourage classroom learning and engagement. In 2017 BEQUAL supported communities in 171 villages with literacy and reading promotions, reaching 20,000 children. We also established 171 community book banks with more than 43,000 books distributed to children who normally do not have access to reading materials.
BEQUAL encourages new ways of thinking and working in education. The BEQUAL Education Innovation Fund provides grants ranging from AUD$10,000 to AUD$160,000 to government units, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to deliver activities that focus on improvement and innovation in primary education delivery.
In its first phase, BEQUAL will help an estimated 450,000 children in 66 of the Lao PDR’s most educationally disadvantaged regions receive a better-quality education, with a focus on children who traditionally experience poorer education outcomes such as girls, students with disabilities, and children from more remote communities.