Shifting the focus to results

Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) is an ambitious program funded by Australia and the EU with additional inputs provided by USAID. It is being implemented in the most educationally disadvantaged districts in Laos — the districts where travel is difficult, where government services are weak, where ethnic groups with little or no knowledge of Lao make up most of the population, and where there are few economic or social incentives for families to send their children to school.

In these challenging environments, it is often difficult to capture the basic information about inputs and outputs. It is even more difficult to capture useful information about the behaviour changes and performance improvements that we really want to see.

RCG’s Phillip Belling has been working with the Lao Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) to develop an M&E system that is practical and sustainable in these difficult conditions.

For example, it is not sufficient to monitor the number of teachers who attend program-funded training. We need to collect observation data to know if and how the new approaches are being used in classrooms. Most of the current classroom observation approaches and methods need to be adapted so that teachers and administrators focus on the classroom behaviours that will improve children’s learning, especially for children from non-Lao-speaking households.

The new observation methodology is being embedded in pre-service and in-service training. Tablet-based data collection that mimics the paper-based system will be deployed to a sample of sites to allow MoES staff and program specialists to consolidate data on teacher behaviours and revise and adapt training and curriculums.