Laos: A new digital platform ensures continuity of education

“Khang Panya Lao” is a new teaching and learning platform to ensure children continue learning while schools are closed. It was developed by the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in Laos with support from GPE, UNICEF and the European Union.

October 20, 2021 by GPE Secretariat, Rachel McCarthy, UNICEF Lao PDR, and Irem Karakaya, UNICEF Lao PDR
4 minutes read
Students using the application Khang Panya Lao on tablets in their classroom.. Credit: UNICEF Laos/2021/SSiriphongphanh
Students using the application Khang Panya Lao on tablets in their classroom.
Credit: UNICEF Laos/2021/SSiriphongphanh

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Laos, all schools and educational institutions closed in March 2020 and remained closed for several months.

This disrupted the learning of over 1.7 million children and young people, who were entering the last 2.5 months of the 2019-2020 school year. Due to the second wave of the virus, school closed again in April 2021, putting children’s learning further at risk.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a need to develop an innovative approach to reach children during school closures and mitigate learning loss. With support from GPE, UNICEF and the European Union, the Ministry of Education and Sports developed Khang Panya Lao (“wisdom warehouse” in English), an online teaching and learning platform that can be accessed via the web and as an application for tablets or mobile phones.

The platform is designed as a supplementary teaching resource for use in face-to-face classes. It also enables students to continue their education from home by accessing digitalized learning content. Khang Panya Lao is based on UNICEF’S Learning Passport initiative and was developed to:

  1. Facilitate learning for children and youth
  2. Support the work and professional development of teachers, principals, pedagogical advisors and early childhood education staff
  3. Develop digital skills for children, youth, teachers and staff in the education sector.
A student using the application on a tablet. Credit: UNICEF Laos/2021/KSaypaseuth
A student using the application on a tablet.
UNICEF Laos/2021/KSaypaseuth

The platform makes the national curriculum textbooks and supporting resources - including interactive games, videos and storybooks - available online for children of pre-primary age and children from grades 1 to 12, as well as teachers and others educational staff.

Contributing partners are Aide et Action, Australia-DFAT and BEQUAL, Humanity and Inclusion, JICA, Room to Read, Save the Children, UNESCO, UNFPA, USAID, WFP and the World Bank.

These local partners are all providing their learning content to the platform. In addition, ChildFund is supporting teacher training in remote communities of Houaphanh province using tablets.

By mid-October, more than 43,300 students have registered to Khang Panya Lao and the numbers keep growing.

An overview of registrations on the Khang Panya Lao platform.
An overview of registrations on the Khang Panya Lao platform.

Khang Panya Lao can be accessed online and offline using a personal computer, tablet or phone. The platform creates a record of all the lessons taken by the student, allowing teachers and parents to monitor students’ progress and support their learning.

An innovative feature of Khang Panya Lao is the provision of USB keys with digital content, which allows for easy uploading to work offline on tablets or computers when there is no internet connection.

Building a more resilient education system

Khang Panya Lao is not only helping children continue with their studies during COVID-19, but it is making the education system more resilient. When future emergencies arise, including floods or other natural disasters, students and teachers will be able to immediately access the platform and avoid an interruption to their education.

In the future, the platform will also support online learning for children who can’t physically go to school, due to disability or location, presenting an opportunity to the reach the most vulnerable populations.

To support increased resiliency, the ministry, is preparing for the national roll out of teacher trainings in how to use Khang Panya Lao in classroom as well as a teaching and learning resource for use at home.

Teachers being trained in how to use Khang Panya Lao. Credit: UNICEF Laos/2021/KSaypaseuth
Teachers being trained in how to use Khang Panya Lao in their classrooms as well as a teaching and learning resource for use at home.
UNICEF Laos/2021/KSaypaseuth

Thanks to the support of GPE, EU and UNICEF, these trainings will be conducted online using a remote and hybrid training model – a novel approach in Lao PDR – with the provision of tablets, TVs and projectors to principals and teachers in select districts.

With the aid of local ICT focal points, these trainings support improved digital literacy of teachers and students, whether they learn at home or at school.

Reaching the most vulnerable children during the pandemic

In addition to supporting the platform, GPE’s US$7 million COVID-19 grant is supporting critical interventions to ensure education continuity and a safe return to school.

Some of the initiatives GPE is supporting include the provision of hygiene and cleaning kits for schools, and the promotion of hygiene practices in schools. Additionally, the GPE grant has supported the development and dissemination of learning materials to students, especially those who live in remote areas.

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