Lao People's Democratic Republic: Secondary Education Sector Development Program (formerly Basic Education Sector Development Program II)

Sovereign Project | 40368-022 Status: Active


ADB is helping the Lao People's Democratic Republic improve access to and enhance the quality of secondary education in the country. The project will expand access to secondary schooling in the poorest districts, prioritizing girls and those from remote ethnic communities. It will improve the delivery of the new curriculum nationwide, and strengthen management of the sector.

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Project Name Secondary Education Sector Development Program (formerly Basic Education Sector Development Program II)
Project Number 40368-022
Country Lao People's Democratic Republic
Project Status Active
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Grant
Source of Funding / Amount
Grant 0257-LAO: Secondary Education Sector Development Program (formerly Basic Education Sector Development Program II)
Asian Development Fund US$ 30.00 million
Loan 2777-LAO: Secondary Education Sector Development Program (formerly Basic Education Sector Development Program II)
Asian Development Fund US$ 10.00 million
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Drivers of Change Governance and capacity development
Sector / Subsector

Education - Education sector development - Secondary - Secondary - social protection initiatives

Gender Equity and Mainstreaming Gender equity

The proposed Secondary Education Sector Development Program (SESDP) is a sector development program (SDP), consisting of (i) a program loan; and (ii) a project grant. The program loan would support key policy reform actions focused on strengthening the secondary education subsector (SES) -- which consists of lower secondary and upper secondary education (LSE and USE) -- throughout the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). The project grant would finance investments that directly link to and support delivery on those policy actions and ensure they are effectively operationalized. Complementary program and project components will collectively address key priorities related to equitable access, quality and relevance, and subsector management in SES. The Program will principally be national or nationwide in scope, with access-related project investments targeted to selected disadvantaged and underserved areas.

Subject to further review and dialogue between ADB and the Lao PDR government, the targeted impact of the Program will be improved educational attainment in Lao PDR, and the targeted outcome will be enhanced equity, quality, and efficiency of secondary education in Lao PDR. While the program and project components will principally be national or nationwide in scope, project investments to expand access will be targeted to 30 selected districts that are simultaneously classified by the government as "poorest" and "educationally disadvantaged".

The Program design directly supports the Ministry of Education in operationalizing the government's reform agenda and programs to strengthen education (with a focus on SES), including key targets set for SES under the Education Sector Development Framework (ESDF). Aligned with Lao PDR's ongoing SES reform agenda and ESDF's 3 pillars, the Program (including complementary policy program and investment project interventions) will deliver 3 core outputs: (i) expanded access to secondary education; (ii) improved delivery of new secondary education curricula; and (iii) strengthened SES management.

Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

The Government of Lao PDR ascribes a high priority to education, as a prerequisite for sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. Government and international development partner (IDP) efforts have supported expanded education access, particularly at the primary level (grades 1-5), where state and IDP support has been concentrated. Gains have also been made in SES, with the transition to a 7-year system marking a key milestone: Completed during school years SY2009/10 and SY2010/11, the Ministry of Education (MOE's) extension of LSE from 3 to 4 years and subsequent addition of USE grade 12 aligns Lao PDR's system of primary (5 years), LSE (4 years), and USE (3 years) with the international standard of 12 years of primary and secondary schooling. At the same time, key gaps in terms of equitable access, quality and relevance, and subsector management undermine SES' and the entire education system's contributions to modernization, equity and inclusive growth, poverty reduction, and broader socioeconomic development in Lao PDR.

Access -- With expansion of primary education, SES has become a key bottleneck. From SY2006/07 to SY2009/10, the LSE gross enrolment rate (GER) rose from 53.3% to 60.2%, with the USE GER stagnant at 34.0%. Aggregate figures conceal large socioeconomic and geographic gaps: e.g., in SY2009/10, GERs for girls and boys in LSE were 44.4% and 56.1% in the poorest districts. Particularly in poor, rural, and largely ethnic group areas (where education quality is also lowest), enrolment rates decline steadily at higher grades of SES. Expanding access requires policy and investments to address an array of demand-side issues (e.g., financial and opportunity costs, weak primary school preparation, language and other cultural factors, and disabilities) and supply-side factors (e.g., weak school network coverage of remote areas, and inadequate financial and human resources), as well as quality issues.

Quality -- Low SES enrolment and high rates of repetition and especially dropout partly reflect quality gaps: The national LSE dropout rate was 13% in SY2009/10, and is much higher in many poor and ethnic areas. In 7 of the poorest provinces, only 11% to 25% of children are expected to reach and complete grade 11. Particularly for LSE, rapid rises in primary school graduates in recent years and limited resourcing have strained capacities to provide access to good quality education. As part of comprehensive SES reforms, MOE has developed new LSE and USE curricula and new LSE textbooks and teacher guides, and commenced the cohort-based phase-in of the new SES curriculum starting in SY2010/11. Follow-on policy and investment support will be critical to fully operationalize these reforms and realize gains from (and meet the jump in LSE enrolment and other challenges linked to) the addition of a fourth year of LSE in SY2009/10, and the potential of new LSE and USE curricula to better feed-in to subsequent learning and employment. Priorities include bolstering (i) systems and institutions providing pre- and in-service training and support to SES teachers; (ii) mechanisms for teacher deployment to poor, rural, and largely ethnic group areas (particularly in subjects like science and math); and (iii) investment in facilities and teaching and learning materials (ranging from textbooks to laboratory facilities).

Subsector management -- Interlinked with access and quality issues, gaps in subsector management undermine learning outcomes and SES' internal and external efficiency. Low investment poses an overarching issue for the education sector, and SES is particularly under-resourced, with ADB the only IDP providing comprehensive support. Financing gaps compound other urgent SES management challenges including in (i) institutional capacity, including the need for further rationalization alongside decentralization; (ii) human resources and technical and managerial capacities; (iii) planning and budgeting, as well as management information systems (MIS); (iv) assessment of teachers and of student learning outcomes, as well as broader quality control; and (v) enhanced mobilization of private sector actors.

To address these gaps and challenges, there is strong justification for a comprehensive SDP approach that aligns directly with the ESDF and other government strategies and policies. Approved by the Prime Minister in 2009, ESDF provides a roadmap for operationalizing the National Education System Reform Strategy, 2006-2015 and a unified framework to guide all government and IDP efforts. Dialogue toward ADB's next country partnership strategy for Lao PDR has identified education as a core sector, and the government has called on ADB to provide sustained support for SES via the proposed sector development program (the Program). This modality allows for comprehensive program and project support to advance progress within SES under all 3 ESDF pillars: (i) assuring equitable access, (ii) improving quality and relevance, and (iii) strengthening sector governance and performance management. The proposed Program builds directly on and dovetails with the ongoing Basic Education Sector Development Program (BESDP). In particular, it will continue BESDP's support for the phase-in of new curricula for LSE (starting SY2010/11) and USE (from SY2014/15), with policy and investment support to ensure full realization of the benefits of the new 7-year SES.

Impact Improved educational attainment in the Lao PDR

Project Outcome

Description of Outcome Enhanced equity, quality, and efficiency of secondary education in the Lao PDR
Progress Toward Outcome Ongoing implementation.
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

Expanded access to secondary education

Improved delivery of new SES curricula

Strengthened SES management

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)

Output 1: Expanded Access to Secondary Education. MOES has successfully completed SESDP's envisaged support to address physical access constraints at all targeted sites, including construction of (i) classrooms and separate, sex-segregated toilets/sanitation facilities at 30 sites for new LSE schools; (ii) USE classroom blocks and similar toilet/sanitation facilities at 15sites; (iii) sex-segregated dormitories at a total of 75 sites (30 new LSE school sites, 30 existing LSE sites, and 15USE school sites); and (iv) related furniture. Work at all sites has been fully completed, with all facilities turned over and in use before the start of SY2015/16 (if not earlier).

To address poverty-related constraints to schooling, a LSE and USE Stipend Baseline Study was completed in mid-May 2014 and used to select 1,740 LSE and 1,200 USE stipend beneficiaries from disadvantaged households (including just above 50% females and 80% ethnic group students). Semestral stipends have been released since SY2014/15, with the program covering a total of 60 LSE schools and 40 USE schools.

As another key thrust, SESDP supported MOES' development of procedures and guidelines for a LSE and USE School Access Grant Program (SAGP). Starting from SY2014/15, 60 participating LSE and 15 participating USE schools have developed school improvement plans (SIPs) and submitted SAGP proposals spanning (i) income-generating activities; (ii) expansion of low-cost boarding facilities; and (iii) remedial support to disadvantaged students.

Output 2: Improved Delivery of New SES Curricula. Building on support under its predecessor (BESDP, which supported the introduction of the new grade 6 and grade 7 curriculum), SESDP is supporting MOES' completion of the phase-in of improved LSE and USE curricula in schools nationwide. As the output's core focus, following support to develop and approve the new LSE and USE curriculum and textbooks, SESDP has supported MOES to print and distribute textbooks and teacher guides to schools nationwide for each grade in the year-by-year phase-in: curriculum materials for the final year (grade 12) of the new SES system are about to be distributed for use from SY2016/17, which will bring to an end MOES' phase-in of the new curriculum. Prior to each school year, MOES has thus far completed nationwide training of teachers to teach the new grade 8-11 curriculum, training an estimated 14,300 distinct LSE and USE teachers to date, with the final round (grade 12) planned in August 2016.

SESDP has also made good progress in related support to strengthen pre-service teacher education and deployment. On the latter, SESDP has supported MOES' development of a new 4-year Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP), introduced in teacher training institutions starting from SY2013/14 and undergoing further enhancement. SESDP has also supported pilot-testing of a Graduate Teacher Placement Scheme (GTPS), which has supported deployment and retention of 65 newly graduated SES science and math teachers (including 34 females and 55 ethnic group teachers) into remote schools in 5 target districts. Under the SESDP-supported Teacher Upgrade Grant Program, 30 teachers (including 17 females and 24 from ethnic groups) are expected to complete bachelor degree programs (during summer holidays) by September 2016. Other completed/ongoing initiative include development of policies and operational guidelines on teacher recruitment, utilization, and deployment, as well as monitoring and evaluation of teacher performance.

Other completed or ongoing support includes support to MOES' pilot testing of a new assessment of student learning outcomes for LSE (completed) and USE (planned for 2016), development of ICT media-based materials for dissemination to teachers (via DVD, TV, etc.) to support improved teaching, as well as pilot testing the deployment of district secondary pedagogical advisors (DSPAs) in 5 target districts. Procurement and installation of science, library, art, and PE equipment has been delayed, but is nearing completion.

Output 3: Strengthened SES Management. SESDP has assisted MOES in developing and implementing a school network mapping (SNM) methodology, focused on identifying physical access constraints (i.e., unmet demand) to guide future investments in new LSE and USE schools. It has also supported MOES' development and approval of new policy documents, including a communication strategy to support SES reforms and a Policy on ICT for Lao PDR Education (Grades 1-12), to ensure that any future investments in ICT are considered in terms of efficacy in delivering core education objectives, sustainability, and equity dimensions. Activities underway include support to develop a revised decree on private education, capacity development for SES management from the central to local levels, and support to strengthen communities and pupil-parent associations (PPAs) in school-based management.

Geographical Location

Safeguard Categories

Environment C
Involuntary Resettlement C
Indigenous Peoples B

Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects

Environmental Aspects The Program is classified as category C for environment, in accordance with ADB's Safeguards Policy Statement (2010), as it is likely to have minimal or no adverse environmental impacts. Civil works involves only small-scale construction of lower secondary schools and upper secondary facilities, with all sites will be on government-owned land and situated in non-sensitive areas.
Involuntary Resettlement The Program is classified as category C for involuntary resettlement, having no involuntary resettlement impacts. As noted above, all civil works will be small-scale and on government-owned land.
Indigenous Peoples For indigenous peoples (termed ethnic groups in Lao PDR), the Program is classified as category B, with considerable beneficial impacts for ethnic groups. Both SESDP's policy loan and project grant focus on addressing access and equity issues related to children from poor ethnic groups, particularly girls. Of the 30 districts targeted under output 1, 20 have mostly ethnic populations, and all 3 SESDP outputs emphasize improving access, quality, and SES management in poor, remote, and largely ethnic group areas. An Ethnic Group Plan (EGP) has been prepared in order to (i) outline the potential impacts of the Program (particularly the project) on ethnic groups, (ii) specify actions to address the impacts, and (iii) help improve the distribution of benefits to ethnic groups. The EGP supports integration of ethnic groups' needs and interests into each of the project outputs, and ensures effective participation and access to the benefits of the project. Key targets and/or features of the EGP include ensuring: (i) ethnic groups receive (a) 80% of dormitory spaces, scholarships, and remedial learning opportunities; (b) 80% of slots for a pilot teacher placement scheme and for teacher qualification upgrade grants; and (c) preferential access to in-service training (including as trainers); (ii) all textbooks and other materials developed under the project are ethnicity-sensitive; and (iii) institutional analysis, school network mapping, M&E, and other analytical work include ethnic group issues and criteria.
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design In-depth dialogue with relevant government agencies throughout the Program design process; workshops/roundtables with agencies/departments at the central and provincial levels, international development partners, and private sector/nongovernment actors; compilation of existing data and conduct of focused studies; informal focused group discussions at both the institution and village/community levels; and direct consultations with school staff and students in target areas.
During Project Implementation In addition to international development partners, non-government entities (including private schools and non-profits) are being involved in SESDP-supported work to develop and/or operationalize new policies, such as on engaging private sector provision of and/or support to secondary education in Lao PDR. SESDP is also attempting to expand the role of communities in school management through strengthening pupil-parent committees, involvement of communities in SESDP initiatives like and access grants and the identification of needy students to receive stipends, as well as broader capacity building and support to promote community involvement in school improvement planning and school-based management.

Business Opportunities

Consulting Services

All consultants have been recruited according to ADB s Guidelines on the Use of Consultants.

A consulting firm for project implementation support has been recruited, consisting of a team of 19 international consultants (totaling 151 person-months) and 22 national consultants (totaling 340.0 person-months), using QCBS method with a standard quality cost ratio of 80:20 where full technical proposals (FTPs) have been required for submission.


All procurement of goods and works to be financed under the grant will be undertaken in accordance with ADB s Procurement Guidelines,21 (2010, as amended from time to time) and the procurement plan prepared and agreed between the Government and ADB.

Under the project, international competitive bidding (ICB) procedures will be used for civil works contracts estimated to cost $1,500,000 or more, and supply contracts valued at $500,000. Contracts for works of more than $100,000 but less than $1,500,000 will follow national competitive bidding (NCB) procedures. Supply contracts for goods estimated below $500,000 but above $100,000 will be awarded on the basis of NCB. Items costing $100,000 or less will be procured through shopping.

Before the start of any procurement, ADB and the Government will review the public procurement laws of the central and state governments to ensure consistency with ADB s Procurement Guidelines.

Responsible Staff

Responsible ADB Officer Spohr, Christopher A.
Responsible ADB Department Southeast Asia Department
Responsible ADB Division Human and Social Development Division, SERD
Executing Agencies
Ministry of Education and Sports
Lane Xang Avenue
Lao People's Democratic Republic


Concept Clearance 28 Jun 2010
Fact Finding 09 May 2011 to 24 May 2011
MRM 01 Jul 2011
Approval 20 Sep 2011
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 28 Sep 2016

Grant 0257-LAO

Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
20 Sep 2011 15 Nov 2011 09 Jan 2012 30 Jun 2019 - -
Financing Plan Grant Utilization
Total (Amount in US$ million) Date ADB Others Net Percentage
Project Cost 32.36 Cumulative Contract Awards
ADB 30.00 20 Sep 2011 24.02 0.00 80%
Counterpart 2.36 Cumulative Disbursements
Cofinancing 0.00 20 Sep 2011 26.07 0.00 87%

Loan 2777-LAO

Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
20 Sep 2011 15 Nov 2011 09 Jan 2012 31 Dec 2016 - -
Financing Plan Loan Utilization
Total (Amount in US$ million) Date ADB Others Net Percentage
Project Cost 10.00 Cumulative Contract Awards
ADB 10.00 20 Sep 2011 4.87 0.00 53%
Counterpart 0.00 Cumulative Disbursements
Cofinancing 0.00 20 Sep 2011 4.87 0.00 53%

Safeguard Documents See also: Safeguards

Safeguard documents provided at the time of project/facility approval may also be found in the list of linked documents provided with the Report and Recommendation of the President.

Title Document Type Document Date
Secondary Education Sector Development Program: Indigenous Peoples Plan (Ethnic Group Plan) (as of Board approval) Indigenous Peoples Plans/Indigenous Peoples Development Plans Aug 2011

Evaluation Documents See also: Independent Evaluation

None currently available.

Related Publications

None currently available.

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