Since the advent of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education, primary school enrolment has increased globally. Many children arrive at school, however, unprepared to fully benefit from this new opportunity, resulting in high rates of repetition and dropout in the early grades. This situation is often compounded when the language of instruction differs from a child’s home language. This is the case in Laos, where many children speak a minority language at home and Lao is the language of instruction at school. This project aims to test innovative models intended to improve school readiness—and subsequent educational outcomes—for second-language learners.
The purpose of this project is to test the relative effectiveness of two accelerated school readiness (ASR) program models on children in language minority communities in Luang Prabang and Odumxay provinces of Lao PDR. We are studying the extent to which school readiness programming offered through a summer accelerated program model, and through a Grade 1 accelerated program model have positive impacts on children’s learning, on-time enrollment in grade 1, and persistence to grade 2. We also want to know the extent to which each of these models has a positive effect on pedagogy in the grade 1 learning environment.
By identifying what works to improve retention and learning for its most vulnerable children, Lao PDR’s Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES) can continue to make progress toward achieving efficient and effective universal primary education. We also anticipate that the findings from this study will be informative for other countries facing similar issues.