With schools and educational institutions being closed since April 2021 due to the second wave of the virus, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the great need for digital capacity, development, and accessibility to ensure continuity in the delivery of education for over 1.7 million children and young people living in Laos.
To promote the digitalization of education for teachers and students and to support children’s learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education and Sports launched a National Digital teaching and learning platform called Khang Panya Lao (wisdom warehouse). It is an inclusive online, mobile, and offline platform that provides uninterrupted access to quality digital learning materials for teachers and students from Grades 1 – 12 and for pre-primary children.
“I registered to Khang Panya Lao in July after I saw it advertised. I didn’t have access to the curriculum textbooks, so I used it to study for my Grade 12 exams, which are really important. I went through all the relevant lessons. I also introduced it to my family and my siblings.” Ms. Pitsana, Grade 12, Champasack province.
The platform has been developed with the support of the European Union (EU), UNICEF and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to facilitate distance learning and to ensure the continuity of learning during school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies. It is also designed as a supplementary teaching resource for use in face-to-face classes.
Challenges: The pandemic has revealed a number of challenges and inequalities between those who have access to digital technologies and those who do not, including communities from disadvantaged backgrounds. Through this learning and teaching platform, the Lao government and educational partners aim at closing the digital gap and make sure every child can access digital learning, no matter where they live.
To support increased resiliency, the Ministry of Education and Sports, has started the national roll out of teacher trainings on how to use Khang Panya Lao in classroom as well as a teaching and learning resource for use at home.
“It is good to use Khang Panya Lao during COVID-19 lockdown. People cannot go out of the house. The app has many good things that gives us knowledge. In addition to what we teach it also helps us to know how to organize teaching and learning activities for students, which attracts students to be curious about the lesson. This is the first set of trainings and everyone is happy. Everyone is interested so they learn quickly.” Khounvilay Khemkitisake, Principal of Thongkang Primary School Vientiane Capital, participant of Khang Panya Lao teacher training.
The EU remains strongly committed and works closely with the Lao Government to support the sustainable and effective adaptation of the education and training systems to the digital age under the framework of the EU Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027).
EU Education Budget Support Programme
The EU has provided 42.9 million euros (515 billion kip) to Laos in 2021 to address various priorities in the education and nutrition sectors including the response to the Covid-19 pandemic’s impacts. Of this amount, 26.4 million euros (318 billion kip) is made available for the EU Education Budget Support Programme in line with the Lao Government’s Education and Sport Development Strategy 2021-2025.
It is a priority for the EU to continue supporting the government of Laos and education partners moving towards digital transformation to benefit children, students and teachers affected by the closure of learning institutions, and to prepare for a safe and successful return to school across Laos.