|Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
Construction of 12 new LSE schools (Batch 1) has been completed in 2013 and are operational. Batch 2 contracts for the construction of 18 LSE schools (including 2 sex-segregated toilet blocks and 60 dormitories) and 15 USE schools (including sex-segregated toilet blocks and 15 dormitories) are mostly completed, except for Xieng Khouang, Xayaboury, and Xekong, which were delayed due to late start-up. A school facilities maintenance manual for the sustainable utilization of the schools have been shared to school principals and VEDC/PPA representatives, including training on the implementation of the Manual. Dormitory management guidelines has been approved by ADB in June 2014. Furniture packages have also been provided to 30 LSE schools and new USE classrooms in 15 secondary schools.
Baseline for identification of stipend recipients (with IEC as lead implementing unit) has been completed in May 2014. A total of 1,740 M1 students (935 female; 1,566 from ethnic communities) and 1,200 M5 students (600 female; 1,068 from ethnic communities) received stipends under the Secondary Student Stipend Program (SSSP). An SSSP Manual, for the criteria and procedures in beneficiary selection and auditing, is also in place.
The graduate teacher placement scheme (GTPS) deployed 26 newly-graduate LSE science teachers teaching either physics and math, or chemistry and biology placed in 13 schools. Selection and deployment were based on the Department of Planning's guidelines prepared with SESDP support. Majority was deployed in existing LSE schools in disadvantaged rural areas, while remaining teachers were placed in new LSE schools constructed under Batch 1 and located in remote areas. Of the 26 teachers, 13 are female and 16 are from ethnic groups. GTPS support incentives for batch 1 were paid to beneficiaries in July 2014. Batch 2 GTPS included 39 teacher beneficiaries, and were deployed in SESDP new schools. Overall, GTPS beneficiaries consisted of 65 teachers, 34 of which are female and 55 came from ethnic communities.
MOES approved on 7 January 2014 (Minister's Decree No. 0047 on Approval and Announcement on the Use of the Guidelines on Annual Teacher Recruitment and Utilization Planning) the noted guidelines, and disseminated these for use by relevant MOES departments and all provincial education and sports services (PESS) and district education and sports bureaus (DESB) nationwide in developing annual teacher recruitment and utilization plans.
M3 & M4 textbooks and teacher guides delivered in January-early March 2013. M5 textbooks and teacher guides procurement has been undertaken in May 2014. Procurement of printing services for M5 textbooks and teacher guides ongoing, with completion of delivery expected before start of school year 2015/16.
Procurement of ICT4LE support package has been completed. Guidelines for the deployment of the five district secondary pedagogical advisers is undergoing review by DSE, DOP and RIES. Following ADB approval, capacity building workshops will be conducted where the ICT4LE support package will be turned over to selected 5 district SPAs for use in ICT4LE media-based resources to support teachers in LSE and USE schools in their districts.
The teacher upgrade grant (TUG) guideline was finalized in April 2014. Thirty (30) TUG beneficiaries, all science teachers from remote lower secondary schools from 30 disadvantaged districts with 11+3 qualifications, have completed the first year summer program in September 2014. The TUG beneficiaries are expected to earn their bachelor degrees after 2 more summer programs under TUG.
The Department of Physical Education, Music, and Arts completed the list based on guidelines in the PAM which was submitted to the PMU. The International Procurement Expert completed the writing of specifications for this list of equipment and the procurement specialist start work on this, targeting delivery by end of 2015.
The SESDP team assisted the DSE in coordination with ESQAC and the RIES in strengthening the national examinations for M4 and M7 through support in drafting of new Rules and Regulations by 2014. Workshops and learning events were facilitated by the international assessment expert and the local consultant. Based on the existing DSE guidelines, the SESDP consultants provided enhancements to the document to align with international standards and best practices.
The work plan to conduct ASLO for the second cohort of the BESDP was secured from the ADB. In January 2015, RIES has completed the tools for ASLO implementation, targeting the conduct of ASLO for M4 in March 2015.
School network mapping (SNM) methodology has been developed in close coordination with World Bank-supported FTI project, which will cover supply and demand aspects for both primary and secondary education. District level school network maps have been completed during a series of roll-out workshops in clusters of provinces in 2013. A total of 1,032 participants have been trained, including 159 female staff. The developed SNM software is currently being used by the ESC and is shared with development partners (such as JICA and the US Embassy) who request for information to determine school building investment priorities.
MOES has recognized the need for a systematic and comprehensive communication strategy to support reform processes; strengthen communication across MOES departments, institutions, and administrative levels; and enhance external communication to communities and other stakeholders. With support under the program's project, MOES has developed a Communication Strategy (2013 -2020) to Support the Education Reform Agenda. Among other dimensions, the strategy emphasizes the role of actors at different levels to disseminate and promote reforms and interventions (e.g., stipend programs) to support improvement of learning outcomes for the poorest children, girls, and ethnic group children as a key priority.
MOES has recognized that to date, investments in ICT in the Lao PDR education sector (as in many neighboring countries) have been ad hoc not guided by a clear policy that assesses possible ICT interventions against clearly defined education sector objectives, and reflects a balanced understanding of (i) the potential of forms of ICT (if embedded in broader approaches) as a tool to support education; (ii) ICT's limitations and substantial resource implications, including capital and (especially) recurrent costs, as well as human resource requirements; and (iii) potential pitfalls of hardware-driven approaches to ICT in education, including in terms of non-sustainability and undermining equity. In view of this, with support under the program's project, MOES (coordinated by the DSE) has developed a Policy on Information Communication Technology for Lao Education (ICT4LE) for Grades 1 -12. In December 2013, MOES issued a decree approving and promulgating the policy, to be utilized by the DSE, the Department of Preschool and Primary Education, MOES ICT Center, and other national and local entities to guide future ICT investments in grade 1 -12 education nationwide. The policy is a pioneering example within ADB''s developing member countries of a policy that emphasizes the need for ICT investments to be dictated by educational objectives; use technology that is appropriate to the context; and clearly prioritize equity and sustainability, including calling for the conduct of total cost of ownership analysis prior to the consideration of any potential ICT investment. As a policy action linked to the second tranche, the project under the program will support MOES to develop a related strategy to identify specific approaches and investments in ICT for education.
The tranche 1 Progress Report approved by ADB's President on 3 June 2014 (and circulated to the Board of Directors for information) recognized Lao PDR''s achievements in introducing block grants as a tool to advance equity of access, the quality of education provision, as well as effective decentralization by ensuring that schools and other education institutions have access to adequate resources to support locally determined recurrent costs. The Progress Report additionally recognized that MOES has put in place and operationalized a de facto policy on block grants for schools and education institutions at all levels within the MOE system, although this has not yet been consolidated into a singular comprehensive and dedicated policy document. At the same time, MOES recognizes that this de facto policy is divided across multiple policy-related documents covering different aspects and subsectors, and that lack of a consolidated and dedicated policy document providing cohesive and comprehensive coverage of block grants within all subsectors of education has undermined the efficiency of block grant implementation. MOES has thus committed to complete during 2014 the development of a consolidated, comprehensive, and dedicated policy document on block grants, as well as a revised and comprehensive operational manual to provide clear and detailed guidelines on the management of block grants, covering all levels of schools and other education institutions under MOES and incorporating a strengthened regulatory framework. A consensus was reached for the continued support for this process be a high priority for addition under the program's project component. The draft school block grant policy has been submitted for signing of the Minister. DOF targets to submit a copy of the signed document to the PMU by Q2 2015.
SNM tools developed and used in mapping of all districts nationwide include disaggregated data (e.g., numbers of female and male students).The database system for the student census for school years 2012/13 and 2013/14 is in place with assignment of unique student numbers. The SESDP team is preparing to submit the proposal for the next census in Q2 2015.