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Written by

Carlo Magno
This report was prepared by the Research Studies Unit of SEAMEO INNOTECH for UNICEF Bangkok.
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Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Table of Contents
List of Tables
Introduction
Assessing the Learning Domains
Purpose of the Report
Rationale
Scope of the Review
Lower Primary Education in South East Asian Countries
Brunei Darussalam
Cambodia
Indonesia
Lao PDR
Malaysia
Myanmar
Philippines
Republic of Singapore
Thailand
Timor-Leste
Vietnam
Country Comparisons on the Learning Metrics
Physical Well-being
Social and Emotional
Culture and the Arts
Literacy and Communication
Learning Approaches and Cognition
Numeracy and Mathematics
Science and Technology
The Presence and Absence of Targets and Outcomes
Dominant Areas of Competencies
Weak Areas of Competencies
Variant Features
Recommendations
References
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List of Tables
Table 1. Domains and Subdomains of the Learning Metric
Table 2. Physical Well-being Domain from Grades 1 to 3
Table 3. Frequency of Domains per Level
Table 4. Social and Emotional Domain from Grades 1 to 3
Table 5. Frequency of Domains per Level
Table 6. Culture and the Arts Domain from Grades 1 to 3
Table 7. Frequency of Domains per Level
Table 8. Literacy and Communication Domain from Grades 1 to 3
Table 9. Frequency of Domains per Level
Table 10. Learning Approaches and Cognition Domain from Grades 1 to 3
Table 11. Frequency of Domains per Level
Table 12. Numeracy and Mathematics Domain from Grades 1 to 3
Table 13. Frequency of Domains per Level
Table 14. Science and technology Domain from Grades 1 to 3
Table 15. Frequency of Domains per Level
Table 16. Frequencies of Skills per Learning Domain
Table 17. Distribution of Learning Domains per Country
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O
ne of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by the United Nations (UN) is to
achieve universal primary education. This was supported by the Education for All (EFA)
movement that aims to meet the learning needs of all children. To meet the basic learning
needs of children, the international representatives at the World Conference of Education for
All (1990, Jomtien, Thailand) developed six goals: (1) Universal access to learning; (2) A focus on
equity; (3) Emphasis on learning outcomes; (4) Broadening the means and the scope of basic
education; (5) Enhancing the environment for learning; and (6) Strengthening partnerships by
2000. It is targeted by 2015 that children everywhere will be able to complete a full course
of primary schooling. However, at the present time (2008-2011), it is reported that there is
still about 3 million primary school children around the world that are out of school (United
Nations, 2011). In South East Asian region alone, only 26% of the girls and 39% of the boys are
enrolled in schools (Asias Changing Youth Population, 1990). To complement access to pri-
mary education, each student in schools should be attaining the necessary skills, competencies,
knowledge, and values necessary for their development. In other, words students should be
learning in schools. There are several initiatives that attempt to put standards in place to ensure
students are learning such as the 21st century skills, and the UNESCO Pillars of learning. One
of the initiatives of the UN to accomplish the 2015 MDG is the Global Education First Initiative
by coming up with a global measurement of learning outcomes. An important goal of the initia-
tive is for each learner to achieve recognized and measurable learning outcomes.
The measurement of learning outcomes would require a specifc set of learning standards.
These learning standards serve as benchmarks where teachers and school administrators work
on for each student to attain. A global task force was created by the UN called the Learning
Metrics Task Force (LTMF) who devised a framework of learning outcomes. These learning
outcomes serve to come up with specifc measurement of learning attained by students around
the world. The idea is that measurement of the learning outcomes informs improvement in
learning of every child (Simmons, 2012).
The learning competencies that were identifed are important for every child in wherever they
live around the world. The learning competencies developed by the LMTF are made applicable
at the global level. The global framework of learning domains were developed based on: (1) EFA
and UN rights of the child for education and learning, (2) research supporting the importance
of learning, and (3) results of the public global consultation.
The seven learning domains are physical well-being, social and emotional, culture and the arts,
literacy and communication, learning approaches and cognition, numeracy and mathematics,
and science and technology. These domains are interrelated and refect the educational goals
of each country. Some countries would prioritize certain areas given their national standards,
culture, and needs. For example, literacy and numeracy are commonly emphasized in countries.
It is assumed that when a child becomes competent in literacy and numeracy, all other skills de-
Introduction
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velop. The learning metrics contain domains beyond literacy and numeracy. The other skills are
needed by every child in order to meet the demands of the 21
st
century. These domains include
physical well-being, social and emotional, culture and the arts, learning approaches and cogni-
tion, and science and technology. The advocacy that goes along with the learning metric is to
produce student limited with reading, writing, and counting skills but able to share values, care
for the world, answer questions in life, transform ways of thinking and acting, and build inclusive
societies. Using the seven domains in education means teaching people the characteristics they
need to solve the challenges of the 21
st
century.
Table 1 shows the domains and subdomains of the learning metrics. The specifc subdomains
are categorized developmentally according to stages of basic education.
Table 1. Domains and Subdomains of the Learning Metric
Domain
Subdomain for Early
Childhood
Subdomain for
Primary
Subdomain for
Postprimary
Physical well-
being
Physical health and
nutrition
Health knowledge and
practice
Safety knowledge and
practice
Gross, fne, and
perceptual motor
Physical health
and hygiene
Food and nutri-
tion
Physical activity
Sexual health
Health and
hygiene
Sexual and
reproductive
health
Illness and
disease
prevention
Social and emo-
tional
Self-regulation
Emotional awareness
Self-concept and self-
efcacy
Empathy
Social relationships
and behaviors
Confict resolution
Moral values
Social and com-
munity values
Civic values
Mental health and
wellbeing
Social awareness
Leadership
Civic engage-
ment
Positive view of
self and others
Resilience/grit
Moral and ethical
values
Social sciences
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Domain
Subdomain for Early
Childhood
Subdomain for
Primary
Subdomain for
Postprimary
Culture and the
arts
Creative arts
Self- and community
identity
Awareness of and
respect for diversity
Creative arts
Cultural knowl-
edge
Creative arts
Cultural studies
Literacy and
communication
Receptive language
Expressive language
Vocabulary
Print awareness
Oral fuency
Oral comprehen-
sion
Reading fuency
Reading compre-
hension
Receptive vo-
cabulary
Expressive vo-
cabulary
Written expres-
sion/ composi-
tion
Speaking and
listening
Writing
Reading
Learning
approaches and
cognition
Curiosity and engage-
ment
Persistence and atten-
tion
Autonomy and initia-
tive
Cooperation
Creativity
Reasoning and prob-
lem
solving
Early critical thinking
skills
Symbolic representa-
tion
Persistence and
attention
Cooperation
Autonomy
Knowledge
Comprehension
Application
Critical thinking
Collaboration
Self-direction
Learning orienta-
tion
Persistence
Problem Solving
Critical decision
making
Flexibility
Creativity
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Domain
Subdomain for Early
Childhood
Subdomain for
Primary
Subdomain for
Postprimary
Numeracy and
Mathematics
Number sense and
operations
Spatial sense and
geometry
Patterns and
classifcation
Measurement and
comparison
Number concepts
and operations
Geometry and
patterns
Mathematics ap-
plication
Number
Algebra
Geometry
Everyday
calculations
Personal fnance
Informed
consumer
Data and
statistics
Science and
Technology
Inquiry skills
Awareness of the
natural and physical
world
Technology awareness
Scientifc inquiry
Life science
Physical science
Earth science
Awareness and
use of digital
technology
Biology
Chemistry
Physics
Earth science
Scientifc ap-
proaches
Environmental
awareness
Digital learning
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I
n order to report performance evidences on the learning domains, assessment on the specifc
subdomains needs to be conducted. This necessitates coming up with an assessment tool in
order to report and inform evidences of learning.
The assessment of the learning domains is necessary in order to track the progress of students
learning within a common framework. The LTMF task force sees the feasibility of tracking the
learning since most countries are already conducting their own assessment in the same areas.
Second, the assessment of the seven learning domains relates to refocusing of educational cur-
riculum, teacher training, and the teaching and learning more focused on the identifed areas.
The LTMF sees the feasibility of coming up with a comprehensive measure covering the seven
domains that requires the construction of a new measure. Third, the assessment of the learning
domains opens an opportunity to see performance indicators in a national level and interna-
tional level. The LTMF sees the possibility of countries participating in inter-country compari-
son of assessment results. Fourth, the assessment of the seven domains requires skills beyond
literacy and numeracy. The LTMF sees the possibility of assessing the other domains because
there are current measures within a limited scale.
In coming up with a successful assessment of the learning domains, the LTMF recommends the
following:
(1) The assessment information collected should describe progress overtime and across
population groups.
(2) Multiple methods should be considered when designing system of assessment.
(3) The seven learning domains should be tracked by the global education community.
(4) Countries must be supported in obtaining the fnancial, technical and political re-
sources to measure learning and use the information to improve learning outcomes
It is important to look at the existing forms of assessment in South East Asia in order to sup-
port the possibility of a global assessment. By looking at the available forms of assessment
in Southeast Asia, it informs future assessment projects how the assessment system will be
designed and implemented.
The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has identifed 10 forms of assessment
implanted in the South East Asian Region. These assessments cover some components of the
learning domains. The common forms of assessment are as follows (pp. 6-13):
Assessing the
Learning Domains
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(1) Classroom assessment. Provide immediate information about individual learn-
er to help improve teacher and learning processes in the classroom.
(2) School surveys. Assess the effectiveness and effciency of schools by integrating
results from classroom assessment, examinations, and national surveys.
(3) Examinations. Provide information about the learning outcomes of individual
student.
(4) Household surveys. Gathers specifed information on target population within
countries or regions, and may be used for local and national stakeholder needs,
international comparability or program assessment.
(5) Hybrid assessments. Examine learning in local contexts and uses effcient
administration and analyses. The tools in hybrid assessment are adapted for each
country. Examples are the Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA), East Asia
Learning Achievement Study (EALAS), and the Literacy Boost.
(6) Large Scale Assessments. Used for monitoring purposes and to inform poli-
cymaking by providing information for the overall education system, such as perfor-
mance levels and contextual information related to learning achievement.
(7) International Assessments. Designed to explore cross-national variation in
students learning, educational systems, and processes. Examples include the Trends
in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Progress in International
Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), Pre-Progress in International Reading Literacy Study
(Pre-PIRLS), Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
(8) Regional Assessment. Sample students and schools and regions that share
similar historical, linguistic, cultural and economic conditions to explore cross-
national variations in student achievement with like countries. Examples are the
Program on the Analysis on Education System (PASEC), The Southern and Eastern
Africa Consortium and Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ), Latin American
Laboratory for Assessment of the Quality of Education (LLECE).
(9) National Assessment. Measure and monitor learning outcomes of a whole
education system with similar curricular domains of different subject areas.
(10) System Strengthening Programs. Review and evaluations of the institu-
tional capacity of education systems as regards to multilevel approaches to assess-
ment. Example would be the Russian Education Aid for Development (READ), and
the Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER).
Given the 10 levels of assessment, the ACER found that 11 South East Asian countries adminis-
ter hybrid assessment, seven countries participate in international assessment, three countries
conduct regional assessment, and nine countries conduct national assessment. The large num-
ber of countries conducting national and international assessment supports the possibility of
the assessment of the seven learning domains within a global scale.
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T
he overall purpose of the present report is to provide recommendations on the use of the
learning metric to gather evidences on student learning among selected South East Asian
countries. The selected countries in South East Asia include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, In-
donesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Republic of Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste,
and Vietnam. In order to come up with the recommendations, the report intends to conduct
the following:
(1) Review the lower primary (Grades 1 to 3) basic education curriculum of the selected
South East Asian Countries to provide evidence on the visibility of the seven learning
domains in the areas of Language, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.
(2) Compare the selected South East Asian countries on the seven learning metrics in
terms of the presence and absence, dominant areas competencies, weak areas of
competencies, and variant features.
Purpose of
the Report
Rationale
T
he review of each countries lower primary basic education curriculum can be used to
develop the specifc content domains for the possible assessment tool will be established.
The initial step in developing an assessment tool is to decide on the specifc domains that will
be measured (Magno & Ouano, 2010). Each of the goals and outcomes of the curriculum from
grades 1 to 3 on each subject (Language, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies) are classifed
according to the seven domains of the learning metric. By doing so, it ensures that there is a
specifc competency available to be measured in one learning domain. The process defnes the
specifc competencies needed to conduct the assessment of each domain. Identifying the goals
in the curriculum according to the seven domains guides in deciding what type of assessment
is appropriate for the students in the early grades (1 to 3).
The comparison of the 11 selected South East Asian countries allow to determine the common
grounds in the curriculum. The common targets and outcomes of the lower primary educa-
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tion curriculum can be selected and then used to build on the specifc evidence/items for the
assessment. The common targets and outcomes are useful to identify specifc items or criteria
that will be used to assess a particular learning domain. The level of comparison includes the
presence and absence, dominant areas competencies, weak areas of competencies, and variant
features.
(1) The presence and absence of targets and outcomes. The presence of
targets and outcomes within a learning domain across countries checks whether such
competencies are included in the overall learning of students. A checklist on the pres-
ence of targets and outcomes allow to make such inferences about the areas that
needs to be flled up if the learning metric is to be considered as a standard for de-
veloping learning.
(2) Dominant areas of competencies. The dominant competencies are the learn-
ing domains that have several targets and outcomes as opposed to other learning
domains. For example, several targets and outcomes are available for literacy and
communication but few on social and emotional domains. Reporting on the dominant
areas provides information on the skills emphasized and focused on by each country.
The dominant area can be lessened later on to give way to other skills.
(3) Weak areas of competencies. The weak areas of competencies are the learn-
ing domains with few targets and outcomes as opposed to other domains. For some
countries, they may have no or little targets and outcomes on physical well-being.
Information on the weak areas of competencies signals curriculum developers the
lack of emphasis on some learning domains that needs to be tapped and considered.
(4) Variant features. The variant features are the unique targets and competencies
that are not similar across other countries. These variant targets may be present but
the content is not the same with other countries. They can be considered as unique
features of the curriculum that are specifc to a country. These features are present
given the cultural, political, religious, historical, and linguistic background of a country.
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Scope of
the Review
Countries Covered. The countries included in this report are the selected South East Asian
countries including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Phil-
ippines, Republic of Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. These countries are part of
the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO). The aim of the SEAMEO
is to promote regional cooperation in education, science and culture in Southeast Asia.
Levels included. The analysis of the learning metrics in basic education is focused on the
lower primary years that include grades 1 to 3. The basic education curriculum for the lower
primary grades is made available and these are considered as the crucial years of child devel-
opment. The basic learning skills are being developed and the learning domains are at least
completed and developed by year 3.
Subject areas included. The subject areas included are language, mathematics, science, and
social studies. These subject areas are common and offered in all SEAMEO countries. These
subject areas are mostly the ones covered in national and international assessment.
Targets and outcomes. The elements included in the country review are the targets and
outcomes. The targets are the specifc and measurable objectives stated in the curriculum
(Magno & Ouano, 2010). On the other hand, outcomes are what students can do successfully
at the end of their learning experiences (Spady, 1994). The outcomes are the desired learning
competencies desired for each student at the end of the school year or marking.
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Brunei Darussalam
T
he mission of the Ministry of Education is to provide holistic education to achieve the
fullest potential for all by giving quality education to children. The vision of the Ministry is
Quality education towards a developed, peaceful and prosperous nation.
The Ministry of Education in Brunei Darussalam has devised a ten-year strategic objectives
(2006 2015) prioritizing human resource development in order to meet the countrys need
for an educated and marketable workforce. The education system also aims to inculcate sound
moral values as a strong foundation in an era of rapid progress and change.
The mission of the educational system is to plan and develop a quality school curriculum that
is sensitive and responsive to global changes and capable of fulflling the national education
policy and objectives to produce balanced individuals in terms of piety, thinking and attitudes.
The general objective includes To plan and develop quality school curriculum, in keeping with
national needs and aspirations as well as to enhance teaching and learning through the diversi-
fcation of curriculum materials.
The Ministry of Education has a policy of providing a minimum of 12 years of education. This
comprises 7 years in primary education (inclusive of 1 year in pre-school) and 5 years in sec-
ondary. In view of the importance of education in the life of an individual, the Ministry of Educa-
tion is also in the process of making education compulsory for every child.
The education system places strong emphasis on literacy, numeracy, science, physical education,
as well as civics and moral education. The bilingual policy introduced in 1984 enables the child
to acquire the national language, Malay, and English. Profciency in the latter enables the child to
access a greater mass of information in this globalised world.
At the primary level, pupils go through a year at pre-school before proceeding to lower pri-
mary (primary I 3) and later to upper primary (primary 4 6). The overall aim of primary
Lower Primary
Education in
Southeast Asian
Countries
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Primary Learning Metric
education is to give children a frm foundation in the basic skills of literacy and numeracy as well
as to provide opportunities for their personal growth and character development.
To nurture childrens abilities, the primary curriculum puts emphasis on basic communication,
literacy, numeracy and Information Communication and Technology (ICT) skills. This aims to
mould and develop the students character and thinking ability, whilst encouraging creativity,
independence and social skills. The spiritual and moral themes embedded within the curriculum
help to develop the pupils, while fostering adherence to the Islamic way of life.
Subjects taught at the lower primary level are: Bahasa Melayu (including Jawi script), English
Language, Mathematics, Pelajaran Am (General Studies), Pengetahuan Agama Islam (Islamic Re-
ligious Knowledge), Pendidikan Jasmani (Physical Education), Lukisan (Art) and Sivik (Civics). At
primary four, children who intends to continue their studies in Arabic schools sit for a selection
test. Successful candidates continue to follow the National Curriculum for another two years
with the addition of a few other subjects taught in Arabic.
The curriculum of Brunei Darrusalam is the SPN 21 (Sistem Pendidikan Negara Abad Ke-21).
This system makes provision for several major educational changes. SPN 21 aims to: (1) meet
the social and economic challenges of the 21st Century, (2) realise the Ministry of Educations
vision and mission, (3) equip students with 21st Century skills, and (4) fulfll the strategic
themes in the Ministry of Educations Strategic Plan (2007-2011).
Language Curriculum. The curriculum standards for English language
in Brunei Darrusalam aim to provide the literacy for learners through the
achievement of language components. These are knowledge of words, listening
and speaking, and reading and writing. Vocabulary, common words, alphabet,
phonics and spelling are parts of the standards. Learners review and extend previous years
vocabulary to add to new vocabulary and topics from preschool to Year 11. By the end of each
year, learners should have increased their knowledge of words given in the standards. These
components contain standards of descriptors.
Mathematics Curriculum. The mathematics curriculum sets the basic
groundwork for most subject areas established at the primary school level. At
this level, number and operations, patterns and relations, measurement con-
cepts, shapes and space and statistical concepts play a prominent role in the
study of mathematics. The content areas of the syllabus at the primary level is organized into
fve strands, namely, number and operations, measurement, geometry, algebra (Pattern and
Relation) and statistics. It is important that pupils appreciate links and interrelationships of the
various disciplines of mathematics. The mathematics curriculum aims to: (1) provide children
with skills and understanding which will enable them to cope confdently with the mathematics
of everyday life; (2) stimulate childrens interest in mathematics and encourage good learning
habits, the ability to solve mathematical problems and think clearly and logically; (3) develop
the childrens ability to interpret and communicate mathematical ideas; (4) help children to ap-
preciate how mathematics can help to interpret the world in which they live, in line with the
national aspirations, and, (5) provide a solid foundation for those who may wish to continue
studies in mathematics.
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Science Curriculum. Science education in Brunei Darussalam strives to
provide pupils with enjoyable learning experiences through which they will
acquire scientifc literacy. Pupils will develop not only scientifc knowledge but
also process skills and appropriate values and attitudes for participating in a
technologically changing and dynamic world. Through scientifc inquiry, pupils describe objects
and events, ask questions, acquire knowledge, construct explanations of natural phenomena,
test those explanations in a variety of ways and communicate their ideas to others. In Brunei
Darrusalam, pupils should develop an understanding of the impact of science on the phenome-
nal technological change, medicine and in improving the quality of life, industries and businesses,
and the environment. In addition, science education prepares pupils for lifelong learning to keep
pace with rapid advancement in technology in a globalised world of work.
Cambodia
T
he purpose of the Basic Education Curriculum in Cambodia is to contribute to the achieve-
ment of the aims of schooling in order for students to further their studies at the upper
grades, participate in the vocational training or to participate in social life by ensuring that every
student has acquired: (1) knowledge of Khmer language and mathematics; (2) knowledge of the
national identity; (3) an understanding of morality and civic responsibilities; (4) the everyday life
skills that enable participation in their local community life and Cambodian society; (5) a basic
understanding of the natural world and of scientifc principles and; (6) communicative compe-
tence in a foreign language.
The purpose of the basic education (Grades 1-3) curriculum is to ensure that every child has
a strong foundation in literacy and mathematics and that they develop their health, physical ap-
pearance, moral understanding, learning skills, and life skills.
Language Curriculum. The government of Cambodia focused their atten-
tion in developing the English language in order for the people to succeed. They
also developed a curriculum that will help establish the English language in
Cambodia which is the Preparatory English Language Course. The curriculum
features an active learning model in the English language which led as the model in developing
the English language in Cambodia.
Mathematics Curriculum. Mathematics is understood to be one of the
concerns in the education in Cambodia. The country aims to further develop
critical thinking of students as one of the important skills. The basic education
curriculum of Cambodia focuses on the mastery of mathematics at a very
young age because it will help them in their future jobs (vocational or professional). The fea-
tures of the mathematics curriculum from Grade 1-3 includes seven lessons for Mathematics
while for Grades 4-10, there will be six lessons for Mathematics. For grades 11-12, the students
are given an option to choose whether to go for an advance (8 hours a week) or a basic math-
ematics (4 hours a week).
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Science Curriculum. Science is considered as an important part of educa-
tion in Cambodia. It covers topics connected to life, health, physical appearance,
etc. The science curriculum in Cambodia is integrated into the arts education
where there are songs, drawings, dances, music, etc. The aim and goal of the
science curriculum is similar with Mathematics. The difference is the features of the curriculum.
Unlike in Mathematics, science only have three lessons for Grades 1-3, then for grade 4 there
are four lessons, and three lessons for grades 5-6. It increases by grades 7-10 with 6 lessons.
Science is only an elective subject by grades 11 to 12. At his level, students may only choose
one, two, or three branches of science that they want to study.
Social Studies Curriculum. Social studies in Cambodia is connected to the
science curriculum and it is integrated in art education. The aim and goal is the
same as Mathematics and Science which is the preparation for the future of the
students. The features of the curriculum is identical with Science, the difference
is the part when the students reach grades 11-12 where they will select social studies as their
elective subject and they will choose one, two, or three topics on social studies (Morals/Civics,
History, Geography, and Economics).
Indonesia
T
he basic education curriculum in Indonesia aims to produce Indonesian people that are
productive, creative, innovative, and through strengthening affective attitude (know why),
skills (know how), and knowledge (know what). The curriculum recognizes the development
of life science and 21st century. The curriculum has shifted in both traits and learning models.
The vision of Indonesian education is the realization of an educational system that is solid and
authoritative social institution to empower Indonesian citizen to become intelligent persons
that are able and proactive to stand facing the ever changing challenges of the era. They are
bright (spiritually, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and kinesthetically) and competitive citi-
zens. The educational system encompasses all form, type, and level of education: formal, non-
formal, and in-formal.
Basic education in Indonesia provides nine years learning experience in both formal and non-
formal education for 7- 15 school age children. The goal of basic education is to develop the
learners basic intelligence, knowledge, personality, noble character, as well as skills to live inde-
pendently and to continue their education.
Competency standards for elementary school graduate:
a. To act on their religious teachings with regard to the stage of child development.
b. To know ones weaknesses and strengths.
c. To obey social rules in their environment.
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d. To appreciate religion, culture, ethnics, racial, and socio-economics differences in their
environment.
e. To use information of their environment logically, critically, and creatively.
f. To demonstrate the ability to think logically, critically, and creatively with the guidance
of their teachers.
g. To demonstrate high sense of inquiry and awareness of their potentials.
h. To demonstrate ability to solve simple problems in their daily life.
i. To demonstrate ability to identify natural and social phenomena in their environment.
j. To demonstrate affection and care about their environment.
k. To demonstrate affection and proud of their nation, state, and homeland.
l. To demonstrate ability in local art and cultural activities.
m. To demonstrate habits to live clean, healthy, fresh, and safe and to take advantage of
spare time.
n. To communicate clearly and politely.
o. To work together in group, help each other, and protect themselves in their home and
peer group.
p. To demonstrate eagerness to read and write.
q. To demonstrate skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Language Curriculum. In 2004 Indonesia started using a competency-
based-curriculum or CBC in teaching language (Suarman, 2011). The Indo-
nesian government wants to develop the human resources of Indonesians in
education. English is considered to be a foreign language in Indonesia. Another
feature is that students only need to reach a certain competence in the English language.
Mathematics Curriculum. The government of Indonesia planned and con-
ceptualized an approach because they want to improve the mathematics cur-
riculum of Indonesia. The approach is called Realistic Mathematics Education
(RME). According to Fauzan, Plomp, and Slettenhaar (n. d.), RME is learning
mathematics means doing mathematics, of which solving everyday life problems (contextual
problems) is an essential part (p. 2). The aim and goal of this approach in the curriculum is stu-
dents of Indonesia will learn on how they can reinvent mathematical concepts and on how they
can apply it in solving everyday life problems. The feature of this approach will help the math-
ematics curriculum of Indonesia in a way that it will improve the classroom environment and
make the lessons more relevant to Indonesians since it will be more connected to everyday life.
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Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Science Curriculum. The aim and goal of the science curriculum is for the
students to have a solid and authoritative foundation that will make them intel-
ligent to face all the challenges given to them (Dharma, n. d.). The feature of the
science curriculum of Indonesia consists of two parts. The frst part focuses on
the elementary school setting and the second part focuses on the junior high school setting.
For the frst part, it is intended to introduce, react, and appreciate science and technology, as
well as to instill habits of critical, creative, and independent scientifc thinking and behavior. (p.
3). While for the junior high school, it is intended to develop basic competency in knowledge
and science as well as to enhance the learners habit of scientifc thinking critically, creatively,
and independently. (p. 3).
Lao PDR
T
he main policy of educational development of Lao government from 2000 to 2020 focuses
on the following priorities: (1) Universalization of basic education at primary level and
continued expansion of participation at lower secondary level, ensuring that all people have
the opportunity to apply their education to serve the socio-economic program; (2) Eradication
of illiteracy, thus providing poor people with a means of helping to improve their quality of life;
(3) Expansion of vocational, technical, and higher education to meet the demand of the new
labor market and improve economic rate of return on human capital investment; (4) Training
skilled workers, technicians, professionals, and intellectuals to have the capacity to ap-
ply modern science and technology to serve the needs of socio-economic development; (5)
Gradual improvement of the quality of the national education to international standards;
(6) Establishment of education as a core of the human resource development and the planning
and management of appropriate invest in education; and (7) Establishment of education as a
right and responsibility of all people in the society.
The goal of the educational reform is to prepare young generations with a scientifc world
viewpoint, spirit of patriotism, and sense of solidarity with all Lao multi-ethnic people and the
people all over the world. The young are trained as good citizens who recognize the rights, in-
terest and duties, able to preserve and promote the fnest national tradition and culture, have a
consciousness of self-reliance and self-suffciency, are able to combine the individual and public
interests, possess the general, scientifc and technological knowledge, and vocational skills, are
well-disciplined, responsible for job and commitment, have a good health, creative thinking,
healthy lifestyle, and are ready to take part in the cause of national development.
The curriculum in Lao PDR is divided into parts. The frst one covered 80% of national cur-
riculum and provided by the Ministry of Education. The second one covered 20% of national
curriculum and provided by school themselves. In primary school, the pupils will be compul-
sory studying seven subjects from grades 1 to 5. These subjects are Lao language, mathematics,
world around us, art education, handicraft education, physical education, and extra curricula
activities. All pupils of primary school study these subjects for 25 hours per week (5 days).
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Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Language Curriculum. The aim and goal of having an English curriculum in
Laos is they want the people to be regionally and internationally integrated.
English became part of the educational curriculum of Laos in the year 2010
(Vongmany, n. d.). The schools in Laos are now starting to build the capacity
and credibility of teachers to teach the English language. The feature of the curriculum is a plan
to teach it together with French because those are the subjects that they want their students
to learn starting year 2010.
Mathematics Curriculum. According to Lukman and Shadiq (2010), the
aim and goal of Mathematics in Laos is for the students to learn different
knowledge, skills, and attitudes and preference. One of the aims and goals in
knowledge is the basic mathematical ideas in order for sudents to survive and
solve daily life problems. For skills, they want their students to learn different mathematical
symbols for them to improve their communication. For attitudes and preference, they want
their students to learn systematic solving problems approach, patience, reasons, and creative
thinking. The features of the mathematics curriculum consists of four parts in the primary level
which are quantity, calculations, geometry, and data and measurements, while for lower sec-
ondary education, it consists of four parts which are numerical, algebraic, geometry, statistical,
probabilistic, and analysis.
Science Curriculum. Science is given importance in the Lao PDR curriculum
because the government wants them to learn and master Science. The aim in
science is for students to be trained workers and professionals that specialize
in science and technology (Phommanimith, 2008). The feature of the science
curriculum is the connection to technology. The integration allow to build the capacity of
skilled workers and professionals in the technological feld. Natural science is one of the areas
taken up in the lower secondary schools. They allot 30 hours per week for this subject. Applied
science is taken up in the upper secondary level for 30 hour session per week.
Malaysia
T
he aim of education in Malaysia is to produce Malaysian citizens who are balanced,
trained, skilful, and cherish the national aspiration for unity. The school curriculum
in is expected to contribute to the holistic development of the individual (mental, emo-
tional, physical, spiritual) by imparting general knowledge and skills, fostering healthy at-
titudes and instilling accepted moral values. To fulfll this aspiration, the national curriculum
is formulated around a number of principles: (1) Continuity of education from primary to
secondary schools; (2) General education for all; (3) Integration of the intellectual, spiri-
tual, emotional, and physical aspects; (4) Emphasis on values and attitudes development;
(5) Upgrading the use of Malay Language and English Language; and
(6) Life-long education.
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Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
The primary education emphasizes the mastery, reinforcement and application of the 3Rs, ac-
quisition of complex skills and knowledge, pre-vocational education as well as the development
of personality, attitudes and values.
A student completing primary school education would have acquired the following:
Mastery of the Malay language
Mastery of language skills
Mastery of arithmetic skills
Mastery of study skills
Mastery of ability to speak, read, write and understand the English language as a sec-
ond language
Ability to seek and acquire knowledge
Leadership qualities and self-confdence
Sensitivity towards man and his environment
Mastery of scientifc and technical skills
Ability to look after ones health and physical ftness
Ability to read, recite and understand the meaning of selected verses from the al-
Quran (Muslim students)
Strong basic Aqidah (belief in God)
Patriotism
Developed talents and creativity
Good manners and practice of moral values
The Integrated Curriculum for Primary School (ICPS) is divided into two phases of three years
each. Phase I comprises years 1, 2, and 3 while phase II with years 4, 5, and 6. The ICPS consists
of three areas, namely, communication, man and his environment, and self- development. These
three areas are subdivided into six components, namely:
Basic Skills
Humanities
Arts and Recreation
Spirituality, Values and Attitudes
Living Skills
Co-Curriculum
Language Curriculum. The Language curriculum n Malaysia is pupil-centred
in order to meet the varied pupils of different abilities. English language in some
school contexts consider it as a foreign language (Ali, 2003). The English lan-
guage curriculum, in principle, attempts to ensure that the pupils would acquire
19
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
knowledge and skills through direct experience in learning the language skills. As such, the major
features in the teaching and learning strategies include: (1) Learning is to be managed through
a variety of grouping; a class, small group, pairs or individuals, appropriate to skills be taught
and the diverse abilities and interests of the pupils. (2) Greater diversity and fexibility is to be
applied in the selection of the body of knowledge and skills to be taught in a particular lesson.
(3) More attention to be given to the individual needs and interests of pupils through remedial
and enrichment programmes. (4) Utilisation of available local materials and resources to en-
hance the teaching and learning process.
Mathematics Curriculum. The mathematics curriculum in Malaysia de-
fnes mathematics as a certain way of thinking and reasoning. The curriculum
espouses that mathematics should be refected in the way the materials are
written and other activities and exercises created. Particular stress must be
given to allow the child to articulate his/her reasons behind doing an exercise in a certain way.
Such interactive learning will require the teacher to plan for more time to be given for certain
concepts in the classroom, and the textbooks would need to allow for this.
Science Curriculum. The science curriculum in Malaysia for the primary
level aims to provide opportunities for pupils to learn about themselves and
the environment through everyday experiences and scientifc investigations, to
acquire knowledge and skills in science and technology and to enable pupils
to apply these knowledge and skills based on scientifc attitudes and noble values to make
decisions and solve problems in everyday life. The curriculum also aims to provide a strong
foundation in science and technology to prepare pupils for the learning of science in secondary
school (p. 2). The objectives of science in the primary school involves the following:
1. Stimulate pupils curiosity and develop their interest about the world around them.
2. Provide pupils with the opportunities to develop science process skills and thinking
skills.
3. Develop pupils creativity.
4. Provide pupils with basic science knowledge and concepts.
5. To provide learning opportunities for pupils to apply knowledge and skills in a creative
and critical manner for problem solving and decision-making.
6. Inculcate scientifc attitudes and positive values.
7. Foster the appreciation on the contributions of science and technology towards na-
tional development and well-being of mankind.
8. Be aware the need to love and care for the environment.
20
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric

Myanmar
T
he focus of basic education in Myanmar is to bring about a change of behavior in schools
relating to life skills, morals, and civics. The vision of the ministry of education is to create
an education system that generates a learning society capable of facing the challenges of the
knowledge age. The lower primary level subjects are Myanmar, English, Mathematics, General
studies, Aesthetic education, Physical education, and School activities.
Language. Basic language skills are taught in pre-school years of the stu-
dents. It is part of the core subject as the Myanmar language and mathematics.
The curriculum is aligned to generate students equipped with basic education
for students development. English is taught to students from primary level all
throughout secondary education. Students will proceed to higher grade level if they showed
skill in language including English. The curriculum is revised in order to meet the needs of the
students instead of focusing only in academe areas.
Mathematics. Basic numerical skills are taught in pre-school in order for
students to develop mathematics in early education. Basic mathematics is
taught in primary level and is developed through secondary education. Second-
ary education is a way to develop the learning that students acquire in primary
level. Mathematics is one of the core subjects in the curriculum of Myanmar aligned with the
goals and vision. Students would be able to proceed in the next level if they showed skill in
the subject of math. This is the aim of the curriculum to be more focused on the needs of the
students rather than focusing only in academic areas.
Science. Science such as biology, chemistry, and physics are optional and elec-
tive in the secondary level of education in Myanmar. Students are given the
freedom to choose three subjects among others to complete in secondary
education. In the primary education level, basic science subject is taught to the
students to acquire basic skills. This is to align the subject of science in the goals of the cur-
riculum in education in Myanmar.
Social Studies. In social studies, students are given the freedom to choose
three courses of their choice at a time. Social studies are optional and elec-
tive in the secondary education level. In attempt to align the curriculum to the
needs of the students, social studies are provided so that Myanmar education
would generate students with basic education, good moral character, and good health. This
focuses more on the needs of the students and not just for the academic area.
Philippines
B
asic education in the Philippines is a sequential progression of academic schooling from
primary to secondary education. The frst level, elementary or primary education involves
compulsory six grades in public schools, in addition to a required kindergarten level (K to 12).
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Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
The kindergarten schooling and covers other preparatory courses. At the age of 4, a pupil may
enter kindergarten and by fve years of age proceeds to grade one.
The basic education curriculum is undergoing a reform towards K to 12 that includes decon-
gesting and enhancing the basic education curriculum for learners to master basic competen-
cies. The cycle of basic education to cover kindergarten through year 12 is lengthened. The
expansion of the basic education by adding kindergarten and two years in high school ensures
that graduates earn the necessary skills and reach the employable age to qualify entrance into
the world of work and higher education, if they desire or need to do so. The K to 12 basic
education curriculum will prepare students with life skills that they earn while schooling. The
curriculum will enable students to acquire Certifcates of Competency (COCs) and National
Certifcations (NCs) issued by the Technical Skills Development Authority (TESDA). The new
curriculum focuses on understanding for mastery and has removed the unnecessarily repeated
competencies.
There is a smooth transition between grade levels and continuum of competencies through a
spiral progression curricular design where learning of knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes
increases in depth and breadth. There is also continuity of competencies and standards from
elementary to secondary level through a unifed curriculum framework.
The curriculum is developmentally appropriate (age appropriate) and focuses on succeeding in
the 21st century. Moreover, the curriculum responds to the needs of the community: an agri-
cultural town may offer agricultural elective courses; a coastal area, fshery elective courses; an
urban area, industrial arts. Learning is systematically matched with labor market requirements.
The basic education curriculum uses integrative, inquiry-based and constructive approaches
to develop the competencies of learners. The K to 12 curriculum is also learner-centered. It
focuses on the optimum development of the Filipino child.
Language Curriculum. The English curriculum in the Philippines intends
students to have good facilitation, awareness, narration, and recognition in oral
language, phonological skills, book and print, alphabet, phonic and word recog-
nition, fuency, spelling, writing, handwriting, and grammar, and vocabulary. The
feature of the English curriculum in the Philippines is having its own schedule on the teaching
of literacy development from kindergarten to grade 1. Mother tongue is taught to the students
as part of the literacy development. The iterative approach is used to teach the English in the
Philippines. This will help the students develop strong linguistic skills that will be used in solving
challenging problems in the long run.
Mathematics Curriculum. The value of the mathematics goes beyond the
classroom and the school. The main goals of the mathematics curriculum in
the Philippines is the improvement of critical thinking and problem solving
of the students. The mathematics curriculum is adopted from the prepared
framework of MATHTED and SEI (2010) which is composed of numbers and number sense,
measurement, geometry, patterns and algebra, and probability and statistics. The subject area
target skills such as knowing and understanding, estimating, computing and solving, visualizing
and modeling, representing and communicating, conjecturing, reasoning, proving and decision-
making, and applying and connecting skills of the students taking up mathematics. The frame-
22
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
work is supported by the following underlying learning principles and theories: Experiential and
Situated Learning, Refective Learning, Constructivism, Cooperative Learning and Discovery
and Inquiry-based Learning.
Science Curriculum. Science education in the Philippines aims to develop
scientifc literacy among students that will prepare them to be informed and
participative citizens who are able to make judgments and decisions regarding
applications of scientifc knowledge that may have social, health, or environ-
mental impacts. The Science curriculum is integrated with technology in different aspects in life
such as civics, personal, social, economics, values, and ethics. One good point about this is even
if a student doesnt pursue Science as his/her career, they will still be able to have skills and
competencies which is suitable in a knowledge-based society.
Social Studies Curriculum. The social studies curriculum aims to teach the
students concepts on human conscience, family, self, and God. The framework
used for the social studies curriculum is the spiral approach which is the main
feature of the K to 12 curriculum. The curriculum doesnt focus only on the
right values but they also focus on the history of the Philippines which will affect the values of
the students. The curriculum also includes students culture and religion in Asia and the whole
world.
Republic of Singapore
T
he Ministry of Education in Singapore aims to help students discover their own tal-
ents, to make the best of these talents and realize their full potential, and to develop
a passion for learning that lasts through life. Furthermore, the Singapore education sys-
tem aims to provide students with a holistic and broad-based education. The Desired
Outcomes of Education (DOE) articulates the importance of holistically nurturing stu-
dents to become well-rounded persons - morally, intellectually, physically, socially and aes-
thetically through a set of eight core skills and values. The eight core skills and values are:
(1) Character development, (2) self-management skills, (3) social and cooperative skills,
(4) literacy and numeracy, (5) communication skills, (6) information skills, (7) thinking skills
and creativity, and (8) knowledge application skills. To enable students to achieve the learning
outcomes of each specifc subject and the DOE, three broad areas are considered on student
experiences, namely, teaching strategies (Classroom management, pedagogy, teaching and learn-
ing resources), content (Aims and objectives, content, skills and competencies, values and at-
titudes), and assessment (formative and summative).
The desired outcomes of the Singapore on primary education involves students:
(1) able to distinguish right from wrong
(2) have learnt to share and put others frst
(3) are able to build friendships with others
(4) have a lively curiosity about things
23
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
(5) are able to think for and express themselves
(6) take pride in their work
(7) have cultivated healthy habits
(8) love Singapore
The primary Education in Singapore is consists of a 4-year foundation stage from primary 1 to
4 and a 2-year orientation stage from primary 5 to 6. The six years of primary level is aimed at
giving students a good grasp of the English language, mother tongue language and mathemat-
ics. In addition, students learn science, social studies, civics and moral education, music, art
and crafts, health education and physical education. At the end of primary 6, students take
the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), which assesses their suitability for secondary
education and places them in the appropriate secondary school course that will match their
learning pace, ability and inclinations.
The curriculum is composed of English, Mother Tongue and Mathematics that is taught at the
appropriate level according to the ability of the student. Science is taught from year 3 onwards.
For years 1-4, health education is not a separate subject but relevant topics are included in
the learning of English. Project work is conducted during curriculum time but is not an exam
subject.
Language Curriculum. The 2001 English Language syllabus in Singapore
MOE indicates that The English Language curriculum in school will help pupils
become independent lifelong learners, creative thinkers and problem solvers
who can communicate effectively in English. To achieve this, there will be many
curricular and co-curricular activities for pupils to use English in a variety of situations and
contexts. Pupils will read widely, learn how to analyze and evaluate language and the media, and
respond creatively to problems and new technology (p. 2). The aim of the English program is
for students to communicate effectively in English. The skills include listening to, read and view,
speaking writing, make presentations, think through, and interact effectively with people.
Mathematics Curriculum. The teaching and learning syllabus for mathe-
matics by the MOE in Singapore indicates that the overarching goal of the cur-
riculum is to ensure that all students will achieve a level of mastery of mathe-
matics that will serve them well in life, and for those who have the interest and
ability, to pursue mathematics at the highest possible level. The broad aims include acquisition
and application of mathematical concepts and skills, developing cognitive and metacognitive
skills through problem solving, and develop positive attitudes towards mathematics. The math
syllabus for primary students include acquire mathematical concepts and skills for everyday use
and continuous learning in mathematics, develop thinking, reasoning, communication, applica-
tion and metacognitive skills, and build confdence and foster interest in mathematics.
Science Curriculum. In the science curriculum of the MOE in Singapore
centers on the inculcation of the spirit of scientifc inquiry. Inquiry is composed
of three domains: (a) knowledge, understanding and application, (b) skills and
processes and (c) ethics and attitudes. The science curriculum seeks to nurture
24
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
the student as an inquirer. The science in the primary level indicates specifc skills and processes
under the three domains that is similar to the learning domains of UNESCO. Knowledge,
understanding, and application includes scientifc phenomena, facts, concepts and principles,
scientifc vocabulary, terminology and conventions, scientifc instruments and apparatus includ-
ing techniques and aspects of safety, scientifc and technological applications. The skills and pro-
cesses include comparing, classifying, using apparatus and equipment, communicating, inferring,
formulating hypothesis, predicting, analyzing, generating possibilities, evaluating processes, cre-
ative problem solving, decision-making, and investigation. Ethics and attitude includes curiosity,
creativity, integrity, objectivity, open mindedness, perseverance, and responsibility.
Social Studies Curriculum. The primary level social studies in Singapore
aims to equip pupils with the knowledge, skills as well as attitudes and values
to make informed decisions and enable pupils to communicate and work as a
team in a multi-cultural and interdependent world. Social studies is compulsory
for all levels in primary schools. The primary level social studies advocate the teaching of con-
cepts using the spiral approach. It presents concepts and skills to pupils at a higher level each
year. This approach helps pupils understand how a new application or an idea is connected to
one learnt previously. It also introduces and reinforces knowledge and feelings about Singapore
in increasing depth and breadth.
Thailand
E
ducation in Thailand is provided mainly by the Thai government through the Ministry of
Education from pre-school to senior high school. A free basic education of twelve years is
guaranteed by the constitution, and a minimum of nine years school attendance is mandatory.
Formal education consists of at least twelve years of basic education, and higher education.
Basic education is divided into six years of primary education and six years of secondary edu-
cation, the latter being further divided into three years of lower- and upper-secondary levels.
Kindergarten levels of preprimary education, also part of the basic education level, spans 2-3
years depending on the locale, and is variably provided.
The objectives of the primary curriculum are to provide: (a) basic education for all; (b) experi-
ences useful for daily living; and (c) education for national unity with common purposes. In this
context, local authorities are given the opportunity to develop part of the curriculumrender-
ing it suitable for local conditions and needs. The curriculum experiences provided for learners
comprise fve areas: (1) tool subjects: Thai language and mathematics; (2) life experiences: the
process of solving social and daily life problems (with an emphasis on scientifc process skills for
better living); (3) character development: activities necessary for developing desirable habits,
values, attitudes and behaviors leading to an acceptable character; (4) work-oriented experi-
ences: general and practical work experiences and basic knowledge for career preparation; (5)
special experiences: activities based on learners interests.
At primary levels, students follow 8 core subjects each semester: Thai language, Mathematics,
Science, Social Science, Health and Physical Education, Arts and Music, Technology, and For-
25
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
eign languages. At age 13 (Matthayom 2), students are allowed to choose one or two elective
courses. The Science program (Wit-Kanit) and the Mathematics program (Sil-Kamnuan) are
among the most popular. Foreign language programs (Sil-Phasa) and the Social Science program
(sometimes called the General Program) are also offered.
Language Curriculum. The government of Thailand has long realized the
importance of the English language as a major core subject in schools, and it
has been a compulsory subject at varying levels for several decades. Since 2005
schools are encouraged to establish bilingual departments where the core sub-
jects are taught in English, and to offer intensive English language programmes. The goal and aim
of learning a foreign language specifcally the English language is an important tool for commu-
nication globally and locally in Thailand. Another aim and goal is to make the Thai students to
be more educated with what is happening in the society. According to the Thailand Educational
Curriculum, the English is considered to be a foreign language which is used as a language for
communication, language for culture, and language for relationship with other learning areas
and community and the world. English is also considered as the core of foreign language in the
curriculum of Thailand.
Mathematics Curriculum. Mathematics is one of the skills that develops
the human mind. The aims of the curriculum is to improve the logical thinking,
analysis of different situations, and problem solving skills because Mathemat-
ics is part of everyday life of every Thai. They believe that it will help them
survive the challenges using Mathematics. Mathematics in Thailand teaches different branches.
The branches or lessons the mathematics curriculum are the following: Numbers and Opera-
tions, Measurement, Geometry, Algebra, Data Analysis and Probability, and Mathematic skills
and Processes.
Science Curriculum. Science curriculum in Thailand aims to: teach the stu-
dents to be more technically inclined as a student; make the students more de-
veloped with their logical, creativity, analytical, and critical thinking. It is also said
that science is important in the modern world which makes it important to
learn the different scientifc knowledge in order to survive the future. The science curriculum
of Thailand provides scientifc knowledge to Thai students. The lessons offered in the science
curriculum are the following: Living things and processes of life, life and the environment, sub-
stances and properties of substances, forces and motion, energy, change process of the earth,
astronomy and space, and nature of science and technology.
Social Studies Curriculum. In the educational curriculum of Thailand, so-
cial studies is part of religion and culture because they share the same aims
and goals. The aim of this curriculum is for the learners to receive knowledge
regarding the lives of human beings. They also want the students to know what
to do if they were in a certain situation that has limited resources. Since the social studies inte-
grate information with religion and culture, the features of this curriculum shows that it is a bit
spread with different knowledge and lessons. However, it serves as a positive feature because
it shows the versatility of the curriculum.
26
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Timor-Leste
T
he new curriculum in Timor-Leste was intended to respond to the characteristics of
Timor-Leste and demonstrate that it values its historical and cultural identity. This new
curriculum placed strong emphasis on the development of academic fuency in both of the
countrys offcial languages, as specifed in the countrys constitution. Tetum language develop-
ment was expected to be emphasized at the lower grades, with a gradual transition to Por-
tuguese over time. Outside of the specifc language classes, Portuguese and Tetum were to be
jointly utilized in subjects like mathematics and environmental studies. The teaching of religion,
which had been a required subject under the transitional curriculum, was made optional. This
was refective of a secularist orientation to religion within the state which had been prescribed
in the national constitution and actively promoted by the government since independence.
Environmental studies, labelled as Estudu do Meio, was an entirely new subject. The subject
integrated social science, science, geography, history, civics and environmental studies into a
thematic study.
The emphasis, at the primary level was to develop understandings of Timor-Leste as a nation
and as a country (Heyward, 2005). The expectation was that students would begin with a study
of their local geography and history and progress to the national context as they moved up in
grade level. The content and focus of the arts and culture syllabus shifted to building students
knowledge and appreciation of their own local and national artistic and cultural heritage.
Language Curriculum. English is a popular language for the Timorese youth
and many have gained good profciency. With the ever-presence of Tetum, Indo-
nesian, and Portuguese, as well as in most cases another mother tongue from
a home district, this makes English a ffth language for most Timorese students.
English is also promoted by the Ministry of Education, but frmly in third position. The end re-
sult is a mix of languages used in the classrooms, and much valuable class time spent translating
terminology from one language to another. This can be viewed as a long-term beneft; Timors
population is rich with multilingualism and will reap the benefts it brings. But in the short term
and in day-to-day teaching, language issues are regularly encountered as a signifcant challenge
for STEM teachers and students.
Science Curriculum. The science is focused on environmental sciences.
Although the curriculum contains many attempted connections between the
curriculum and everyday experience of the Timorese, support materials for
teaching science with the primary curriculum are limited. In the last two years,
UNICEF and the World Bank have produced support materials and kits of manipulatives for
certain schools that vastly improve the effectiveness of mathematics and science teaching once
teachers are trained to use them.
Social Studies Curriculum. Environmental studies is an entirely new sub-
ject. The subject integrated social science, science, geography, history, civics and
environmental studies into a thematic study. The emphasis, at the primary level
was to develop understandings of Timor-Leste as a nation and as a country
(Heyward, 2005). The expectation was that students would begin with a study of their local
geography and history and progress to the national context as they moved up in grade level
27
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
(MECYS 2004, p. 27). Likewise, the content and focus of the arts and culture syllabus shifted
to building students knowledge and appreciation of their own local and national artistic and
cultural heritage.
Vietnam
T
he basic education curriculum in Vietnam provides for the development of the whole child,
touching hearts as well as minds and encompassing social, physical, emotional, and cultural
needs in addition to academics. The curriculum seeks to enhance students thinking skills and
deepen their understanding of themselves, the environment and the changing world. It prepares
students for the essential skills and understanding they will need in the future.
The underlying philosophy of the basic education curriculum in Vietnam aims to satisfy the
needs of students studies so that they can exist, develop and integrate in the community. It
focuses on children, based on their positive activities to help them create the demands of stud-
ies and learn how to teach themselves, seek and acquire new knowledge by themselves. It is
appropriate to the level of progressive development of Vietnamese children, which could create
favorable conditions for Vietnamese people to integrate in the community and compete in the
international market.
The primary education in Vietnam should enable pupils to have the basic and necessary under-
standing about nature, society and people; to obtain basic skills in listening, reading, speaking,
writing and calculation; to acquire habits of maintaining health and hygiene; to have basic knowl-
edge of music and the fne arts.
Language. The main concern of primary education in Vietnam is to develop
the Vietnamese language among its students as a primary language. Vietnam-
ese is the medium of instruction in the educational system of the country.
Although, ethnic groups are given the freedom and right to learn through their
preferred language. Secondary education enables students to learn foreign language such as
English for the beneft of the students. This is to align their students for globalization which is
one of the goals of the curriculum of Vietnam. Reinforcing the learning from primary school
throughout secondary school which in the subject of foreign language.
Mathematics. Mathematics is taught in primary education in Vietnam. Stu-
dents in the primary level are educated with basic mathematics for the pro-
gression in secondary level. Secondary education supplements the learning
they have acquired in their primary level. Mathematics is one of the core sub-
jects of Vietnam with its philosophy for globalization.
Science. Vietnam gives importance to the subject of science align to its phi-
losophy of modernizing the country. The science subject is also one of the core
subjects of Vietnam and is taught from the primary to secondary level. Basic
knowledge in science is acquired and provided in the primary school. Second-
28
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
ary schools supplement the learning of the students in primary education. Science subject is
essential for the globalization and modernization of Vietnam.
Social studies. Vietnam also focuses on their nation history provided in the
social studies in secondary education level. Basic understanding of the social
sciences is taught in secondary education to give importance to Vietnams na-
tional history. This is to provide a basic knowledge of the social sciences in the
students of institutions in Vietnam. This is also to develop content learned in primary school.
It also provides students an opportunity to develop their acquired skills such as creativity, self-
awareness and initiative through the subject social studies.
29
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Country Comparisons
on the Learning
Metrics
T
his section concentrates on the targets and outcomes specifc for each learning metrics.
The targets and outcomes were fused as a specifc measurable behavior indicated in the
curriculum. The approach in the comparison is done within each grade level to see the devel-
opment of the learning domain. The competencies were clustered according to the domains
in the original metric (see Table 1) and additional domains were added if the existing domains
do not cover the behavior. The behaviors were counted across levels (years 1 to 3) and across
domains. This is followed by country comparison on the targets and competencies.
Physical Well-being
I
n the curriculum of some countries in South East Asia, the specifc behavior covering physical
well-being are constant from years 1 to 3. The consistency is described to have similar targets
and outcomes from the frst three years of primary education. Examples would be in Cambodia
and the language curriculum in the Philippines. The style of the curriculum is similar for the
lower primary (grades 1 to 3) and followed by the upper primary (grades 4 to 6).
In Cambodia, the physical well-being domain covers singing, drawing, and dancing as recurring
skills in language, science, and social studies. The language skills in the Philippines are not distin-
guished from grades 1 to 3. Sounding letters, writing legibly and performing literacy related task
are the same from grades 1 to 3. The other countries show clear progression of the physical
well-being skills. For example, the science curriculum in Lao PDR starts with basic hygiene (e. g.,
washing, safety for the body, etc.) and progresses to avoiding sickness and moves up to having
nutritional balance by year 3.
The physical well-being domain is common in the mathematics and science subjects. In science,
physical well-being covers hygiene, labeling, use of instruments, and demonstrations. In math-
ematics, the domain covers counting, ordering, drawing, and recording. However, there are very
few skills covering physical well-being in the curriculum of South East Asian countries.
30
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
T
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31
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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32
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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s
X
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X
33
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Table 3. Frequency of Domains per Level
Physical Well-being Subdomains
Frequency
Gr. 1
Frequency
Gr. 2
Frequency
Gr. 3
Physical health and hygiene 4 1 3
Food and nutrition 0 0 4
Physical activity 6 8 6
Sexual health 0 0 0
Additional subdomains
Exploring 1 0 1
Using materials 0 1 1
Recording 0 0 2
Improvisation 0 0 1
Demonstrating 0 0 1
11 10 19
There is a concentration of physical activities among other skills in the physical well-being do-
main. Several behaviors of the physical activity are found in year 2. There is also a concentration
on physical health and hygiene at year 1. This skill is part of the basic needs of the child and it
is appropriate to introduce the skills early in the grades. Food and nutrition only comes at the
later part (grade 3). Sexual health is not yet covered in years 1 to 3.
Social and Emotional
T
he specifc targets and outcomes on social and emotional domain are similar and consis-
tent from years 1 to 3 in most of the curriculum in South East Asia. Examples of countries
with similar skills from years 1 to 3 would be Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, language in the
Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. This can be explained by the nature of social and emotional
constructs where they cover values and dispositions where and it take years to develop and
nurture them. These values also need to be sustained and seen at the end of the school years.
The emotional and social characteristics are valued across all stage in life.
The consistent emotional and social constructs include positive attitudes, appreciation, conf-
dence, safety, morality, civic responsibility, national identity, interacting with others, and sharing
ideas.
The progression of the domain can be seen in the language and social studies curriculum in Lao
PDR. The language curriculum starts with the classroom interaction and enjoyment of reading
which is more of receiving. By year two, it progresses to a more active role by participation
in speaking and listening. By year three, it is advanced to actual production skills such as using
polite words. The same is the case in the social studies where the simple to complex skills are
developed. It starts with using correct words. This is followed by higher cognitive skills such as
describing geography and retelling history. By year 3, students should be able to locate Lao in
the world map.
34
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
The curriculum in language, science, and social studies are rich in the social and emotional
domain. It is easy to integrate these aspects especially in conceptual knowledge where hu-
man interaction can be applied. The emotional and social factors are generally encountered
and manifested in human interaction such as dealing with family members, peers, and in the
workplace. The skills are applicable and valued in every human interaction which explains its
consistency across the levels.
T
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37
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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a
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1
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2
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3
T
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e
The social and community values tend
to increase over time from year 1 to 3.
The focus of the curriculum in schools
shows a movement from developing
the self to realizing ones role in the
community. The increasing behavior in
this area refects the need to develop
students further to contribute and
become competent members of the
community at large.
Civic values tend to be the same
across grades 1 to 3. Civic values such
as following rules and regulations, and
social norms tend to be an unchanging
behavior overtime. Social institutions
such as the school provide expected
norms of conduct such as civic values.
There are additional social and emo-
tional subdomains but the frequen-
cies are few. The existing domains are
comprehensive enough to accommo-
date the behaviors found in the cur-
riculum.
There was a large occurrence of so-
cial and emotional constructs found in
the curriculum. More specifcally, the
language, science, and social studies
are rich in these behaviors. This shows
that the curriculum emphasizes the
need to develop social and emotional
aspect of the learners. Regardless of
the cultural differences among South
East Asian countries, the social and
emotional domains are given emphasis
in many subject areas.
38
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Table 5. Frequency of Domains per Level
Social and Emotional
subdomains
Frequency Gr. 1 Frequency Gr. 2 Frequency Gr. 3
Social and Community
Values
19 18 21
Civic values 11 11 11
Mental health and well-
being
14 13 9
Additional subdomains
Realize scarcity of
resources
1 0 0
Realize constraints 0 1
Utilize sense of place and
reason
1 1 1
46 43 43

Culture and the Arts
T
he specifc targets and outcomes for the culture and arts are consistent from grades 1 to
3 for Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, and language in the Philippine
curriculum. Again, this is due to the clustering of the curriculum in the lower primary education
of the mentioned countries. The progression of the cultural and arts domain could not be seen
from years 1 to 3.
A range of culture and art skills can be observed in the curriculum of South East Asian coun-
tries. The skills include creativity, moral values, building, appreciation, moral values, preservation
of cultural environment, imagination, and observance of tradition.
The progression of skills from grades 1 to 3 can be seen in the curriculum of Lao PDR, Malayisa,
Singapore, Thailand and Mathematics in the Philippines. For example in Lao PDR, the culture
and art skills start with describing groups of people such as the school community. Then it pro-
gresses to reasoning why people live together in year 2. A larger coverage of groupings such as
regional and relationship with leaders are tackled on year 3.
The culture and art skills are greatly manifested in the areas of language mathematics and social
studies. The language culture and art skills cover creative writing, recognizing the audience, and
reading local text for appreciation. Mathematics includes drawing shapes, recognizing currency
(monetary notes). The curriculum in social studies manifest rich skills in social studies that
includes preservation of culture, participating in community and cultural activities, appreciation
of art forms, and elating oneself to the culture.
39
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
T
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40
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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41
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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42
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
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43
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
A large number of skills were obtained for culture and arts. Most of these skills are con-
centrated under cultural knowledge that covers describing and explaining ones community,
culture, values, and tradition. The creative arts are mostly manifested in mathematics where
the learners create models and fgures. There are several additional domains identifed such as
building/production, appreciation, improvement, preservation, and participation. Several skills
on the domain for building/production and appreciation were identifed. However, the building/
production skills declined from the grades 1 to 3. The declined in skills is due to the learners
expectation to work more on the cognitive skills refected in the cultural knowledge part.

Table 7. Frequency of Domains per Level
Culture and the arts
Subdomains
Frequency
Grade 1
Frequency
Grade 2
Frequency
Grade 3
Creative arts 2 2 2
Cultural knowledge 8 8 8
Additional subdomains
Building/production 7 5 3
Drawing 3 4 4
Appreciation 6 6 6
Improvement 2 1 1
Preservation 3 3 3
Participation 5 5 5
36 34 32
Literacy and Communication
T
he curriculum in South East Asian countries is very rich in literacy and communication
skills. This skill also cuts across other subject areas aside from the dominance of skills in
the languages as a subject. This richness is explained by the target of making each child literate
in the early grades.
The lower grades (grades 1 to 3) focuses on literacy skills that cover listening, responding,
phonics, decoding, fuency, writing, reading, and comprehension. There is a very close similarity
in this range of skills from grades 1 to 3 because they need to be developed and mastered in
the early years. Even the other subjects are rich in the literacy skills in order to reinforce them.
The progression of literacy and communication skills can be observed for Lao PDR, Singapore,
and Thailand. For example in Singapore, grade 1 students start with listening, viewing, and re-
sponding to text. By grade 2, students start to talk about what they have read. By year 3, the skill
is heightened to responding creatively to stories. The progression in listening is also manifested
from simple listening by grade 1 to sustained listening by grades 2 and 3.
44
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
The subjects on language and mathematics showed to manifest several skills on literacy and
communication. The language which consists of both the English language and the native lan-
guage emphasizes on listening, reading, speaking, and writing. For mathematics, the literacy
includes reading, representing, and writing numbers both in the native and English language.
Literacy and communication in mathematics also cover the language used to pointing locations,
comparing measurement of objects, telling the days of the week and months, telling the time,
and reading graphs.
T
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47
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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48
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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49
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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X
Large frequency of skills was obtained for the lit-
eracy and communication skills for each of the do-
main identifed. Majority of the skills in the lower
grades are concentrated on oral comprehension.
This skill involves being able to understand what
students have read or listened to and the ability
to respond by answering questions, retelling, com-
municating own ideas, and conveying meaning. The
frequency on reading fuency shows decline be-
cause students are expected to have mastered it
by years 1 and 2. Reading comprehension remained
stable from grades 1 to 3 because this skill needs
reinforcement. Expressive vocabulary is increasing
that accommodates the growth on the learners
vocabulary. Written expression is also increasing
in terms of the frequency because students writ-
ing skills are developed as they move higher in the
level. Writing is less in the lower grades because
the concentration begins with the reading and oral
fuency. If the frst two skills are developed, writing
can be easily taught which will also require more
integrated language and cognitive skills.
50
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Table 9. Frequency of Domains per Level
Literacy and communication
Subdomains
Frequency
Gr. 1
Frequency
Gr. 2
Frequency
Gr. 3
Oral fuency 5 4 4
Oral comprehension 16 15 16
Reading fuency 4 2 3
Reading comprehension 4 3 4
Receptive vocabulary 2 2 1
Expressive vocabulary 5 5 6
Written expression/ composition 3 6 9
Additional subdomains
Social interaction 2 2 2
Syntax 2 1 1
Spelling 3 1 3
Interpretation 2 2
Labeling 1 1
Listening 2 2 1
Use linguistic devices 1 1
Presenting 1
Alphabet and sounds 2 1
Pronunciation 1
51 46 57

Learning Approaches and Cognition
A
pproach to learning and cognition is one of the important skills that facilitate successful
learning among students. Students awareness of a range of learning approaches makes
them perform better on tasks. The curriculum in South East Asia integrates well how these
learning approaches are attained.
The subjects on language and mathematics contain more evidence of the learning approaches
and cognitive skills. For language, the skills range from reading strategies, planning before speak-
ing and writing, activating prior knowledge, and study skills. Mathematics includes using models
and concrete materials to facilitate operations and counting, mental calculations, and a range of
problem solving strategies.
The progression of the learning approaches and cognitive skills is shown in Lao PDR, Malaysia,
Singapore and Vietnam. For example in Mathematics in Malaysia, grade 1 students start with
mental addition then moves up to mental subtraction by grade 2. By grade 3, students should
be able to do both mental addition and subtraction. For mathematics in Singapore, mental ad-
dition and subtraction are standards for grade 1. By grade two, using multiplication tables as a
technique is introduced. By grade 3, mental calculation in all operation using 4 digits are set as
standard.
51
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
T
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Primary Learning Metric
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56
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
There are several additional learning approaches and cognitive skills identifed in the curricu-
lum. There are a rich number of skills on general learning and study strategies. The language
subjects are rich in reading strategies while the mathematics is rich in the use of manipulative
and mental operations. The languages necessitate the use of reading strategies in order to make
sure that students comprehend what they are reading. Such reading strategies include reading
aloud, monitoring, asking questions, and responding to text. For mathematics, mental calculation
is emphasized because students need to attain an automated response when using numbers in
real life setting. The use of manipulative is high in the early grades because it aids the learner to
perform counting and develop further their number sense.

Table 11. Frequency of Domains per Level
Learning approaches and cognition
Subdomains
Gr. 1
Frequency
Gr. 2
Frequency
Gr. 3
Frequency
Persistence and attention 3 3 3
Cooperation
Autonomy 1 1 1
Knowledge
Comprehension 1 1 1
Application 2 1 1
Critical thinking
Additional subdomains
General learning and study strategies 4 5 5
Reading strategies/reading aloud 3 4 3
Planning 2 2 2
Using models 1 2 2
Using manipulatives, materials,
and visuals
3 6 1
Self-management 1 2
Focusing on solution 3 3 4
57
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Learning approaches and cognition
Subdomains
Gr. 1
Frequency
Gr. 2
Frequency
Gr. 3
Frequency
Goal-setting/purpose driven 2 2 3
Sorting/classifying/categorizing/
comparing
4 3 1
Mental operations 4 3 4
Modifying/revising/debugging 2 2 2
Predicting/consequencing 1 2 1
Questions, assessing, investigating, ex-
perimenting
3 3 6
Observing and data gathering 2 4 2
Organizing and summarizing 2 1
Idea generation 2 2 2
46 49 46

Numeracy and Mathematics
M
ajority of the mathematics curriculum in South East Asia show progression of skills from
grades 1 to 3. Teaching and learning mathematics as compared to other subjects showed
a better progression because the skills involved quantitative approach. The limitation of the skill
per level is also easy to identify. The progression is shown in two ways, frst, the introduction of
concept/lessons at a particular level and second is the increasing level of the skill. An example
in the frst type of progression is the case of mathematics in Thailand where telling the amount
of money is introduced by grade 2, and reading pictographs and bar graphs are introduced at
grade 3. In Singapore, the concept of place value is introduced by grade 3. An example for the
second type of progression is the case of the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, where by
grade 1, learners learn the skill on addition, by grade 2 it is expanded with subtraction, and by
year 3 students should be able to do all four operations. Another example would be in geom-
etry where the identifcation of basic shapes by grade 1 are tackled, lines and segments are
added by grade 2, and angles are introduced by grade 3.
The numeracy skills have a certain degree of exclusivity for the mathematics subject. This is
indicated in the concentrated skills in the subject and in other subjects, and few for science.
At the lower years, the integration of numeracy skills in other domains is still weak and might
develop in the higher grades when lessons become interdisciplinary.
58
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
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59
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
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60
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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61
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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X
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X
62
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
There is a clear pattern of skills in the area of numeracy and mathematics. There are subdo-
mains that remain stable from grades 1 to 3 and there are subdomains that showed level of pro-
gression. For example, number sense, place value, odd and even numbers, operations, fractions,
and measurement remain stable from grades 1 to 3. These skills are needed at all levels and
there are varying degrees of diffculty in teaching them across the three years. The subdomains
on Roman numerals, geometry and patters, mathematics application, statistics and probability,
and patterns and algebra showed increase in frequency because their topics are introduced at
certain level for some countries.

Table 13. Frequency of Domains per Level
Numeracy and mathematics
Subdomains
Gr. 1
Frequency
Gr. 2
Frequency
Gr. 3
Frequency
Number concepts and operations
Number sense 8 8 8
Place value 2 2 2
Roman numerals 1 1 2
Rounding of 1
Odd and even 1 1 1
Operations 5 5 5
Geometry and patterns 2 4 4
Mathematics application(problem
solving)
3 4 4
Additional subdomains
Fractions 1 1 1
Statistics and probability 2 5 5
Measurement 8 8 8
Patterns and algebra 1 1
32 40 41
Science and Technology
T
he skills in science and technology showed relative exclusivity to the science subject in
majority of the curriculum in South East Asia. The science skills cover classifying, recycling
and reusing, setting-up models, identifying, explaining, interpreting, using tools, comparing, ex-
perimenting, demonstrating, describing, relating, observing, and exploring.
In some countries, there is evidence of science and technology domains in other subject areas
such as mathematics in Lao PDR, mathematics and social studies in the Philippines, mathematics
in Singapore, and social studies in Vietnam.
It is only in Lao PDR, Singapore, and Thailand that showed progression in the science and
technology skills. For example in Lao PDR, grade 1 starts with representing data displays. By
63
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
grade 2, the skill is leveled up to interpreting the data. By grade 3, the students start to collect
their own data using measuring tools. The learners then record their own data and make their
interpretation. For the science in Singapore, grades 1 and 2 include observation of living and
nonliving things. The skill is leveled up by grade 3 where they start comparing plants and animals
and how they exchange gasses.
T
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64
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
C
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Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
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67
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
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68
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
The skills on the science and technology are concentrated on some domains. For example,
most of the skills are concentrated on scientifc inquiry. The scientifc inquiry skills include ex-
perimentation, use of the scientifc method, observation, data gathering, reporting, and conclud-
ing. High frequencies were obtained for scientifc inquiry because these skills are also applicable
for other subjects. Mathematics, social studies, and language subjects also make use of scientifc
inquiry. The frequency of awareness and use of digital technology is low. The use of technology
in science is not commonly used in the lower grades. The lower grades are focused in develop-
ing the basic scientifc literacy skills and the use of technology is not yet well integrated.

Table 15. Frequency of Domains per Level
Science and Technology
Subdomains
Gr. 1
Frequency
Gr. 2
Frequency
Gr. 3
Frequency
Scientifc inquiry 14 12 11
Life science 6 7 8
Physical science 3 1 5
Earth science 3 6 6
Awareness and use of digital
technology
1 1 1
Additional subdomains
Recycling and reusing 1 1 1
28 28 32
69
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
The Presence
and Absence of
Targets and
Outcomes
T
he skills that are present refer to those subdomains with 0 frequency reported. All six of
the learning domains have specifc skills on the subdomains. Only the domain on learning
approach and cognition has three subdomains with 0 frequency.
The skills that are absent refer to those subdomains with 0 frequency reported. The absent
feature only occurred for learning approach on cooperation where knowledge, and critical
thinking have 0 reported frequencies.
Dominant Areas
of Competencies
T
he dominant areas of competencies refer to those subject areas with several targets and
those subdomains that have a large number of frequencies.
The domains with the most number of stated competencies belong to literacy and commu-
nication, followed by learning approach and cognition and social and emotional. Literacy and
communication is said to be one of the important foundation skills that lower primary students
need to acquire. When a learner can access textual information, other skills are further devel-
oped. All other subject areas such as mathematics, science, social studies, etc. would require
a certain level of literacy in order to process and learn information in these areas (Welsh As-
70
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
sembly Government, 2010). Literacy skills are tied with language skills and language is one of
the requirements in order to succeed in education. In the lower primary, children at the start of
schooling are given scaffold on phonological awareness, print awareness, vocabulary, and print
awareness (Dickinson & Tabors, 2001). These prereading skills are required to further develop
an individual acquire higher order skills.
Literacy is also one of the major areas of concentration on global initiatives. For example,
the UNESCO has organized the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD 2003-2012). The
UNLD provides an avenue for achieving the six Education for All (EFA) goals and developing
literate environments. The UNLD has made initiatives to present and disseminate effective
literacy practices, build cooperation among stakeholders, develop recommendations on the
way forward and mobilize partners and resources for concrete interventions at the country
level. Other initiatives that promote literacy around the world are the World Literacy Initiative,
World Literacy Foundation, HOPE International Development Agency and others.
The curriculum in South East Asian Countries is also elaborate in their statements on learning
approach and cognition, and social and emotional domains. These two domains are not subject
specifc and cuts across different subject areas. The domain on learning approach and cognition
is highly integrated in different subjects. There is an increasing realization that children do not
only learn information but the curriculum supports learners in the learning process, becoming
aware of the learning process, and adapting the learning process in different contexts. When
students are taught learning approaches and processes and have mastered different heuristics
such as metacognition and self-regulation strategies, students can control more of their learn-
ing and are more able to perform better in academic tasks (see Magno, 2011; Zimmerman &
Martinez Pons, 2002).
Having several competencies on social and emotional domains fulflls the notion that education
does not only develop cognitive (thinking) skills but the affect as well. The partnership on the
21
st
century skills supports the primary importance of developing social and emotions skills
of learners. The 21
st
century skills involving social and emotional domains include interacting
effectively with others and working effectively in diverse teams. The Philippines, Cambodia, and
Indonesia have also adapted the 21
st
century skills as the focus of their curriculum. Several orga-
nizations around the world also focus on developing initiatives to better promote the learning
of the social and emotional domain. An example would be the Australian Centre for Social In-
novation where they developed a program on social and emotional learning. The program aims
to develop among the youth social and emotional competencies, enterprise, creativity, and in-
novation, emotional resilience, and discipline. The positive youth development framework also
focuses on developing enhanced social and emotional skills. The framework by the Center for
Youth Development described positive youth development as a process through which young
people acquire the social, emotional skills, and abilities required to navigate life.
71
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Table 16. Frequencies of Skills per Learning Domain
Domain Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Total
Physical well-being 11 10 19 40
Social and emotional 46 43 43 132
Culture and arts 36 34 32 102
Literacy and communication 51 46 57 154
Learning approach and cognition 46 49 46 141
Numeracy and mathematics 32 40 41 113
Science and technology 28 28 32 88
1. The physical well-being domain is dominant in the science and mathematics sub-
jects. The science competencies that include washing, caring and safety for the
body, exploring ones body, labeling, and using materials. The physical well-being in
mathematics includes production, counting, ordering, drawing, and record keep-
ing. The dominant subdomains are the physical activity, and physical health and
hygiene.
2. The social and emotional domain is dominant in language and social studies. The
language competencies include classroom interaction, discussion, participation,
polite routines, positive listening, knowing each other, and appreciation of lan-
guage. The mathematics competencies on social and emotional include improve-
ment of society, morality, civic responsibility, national identity, using geography,
harmony, and roles of people. The dominant subdomain are social and community
values, and mental health and well-being.
3. The culture and arts is dominant in the language, mathematics, and social studies.
The culture and arts competencies in language include creative communication,
art appreciation, and use of native vocabulary of festivals. For mathematics, the
culture and art skills are building 3D objects, creativity and imagination, under-
standing money value, and drawing lines and shapes. For social studies, a range of
social and cultural skills were obtained that includes appreciating and preserv-
ing culture, appreciation of art forms, participating in local activities, describing
groups of people, cultural practices, and relating self with culture. The subdomain
that is dominant is cultural knowledge and appreciation.
4. The literacy and communication domain is dominant in the language subject. The
literacy and communication skills include listening and responding, presenting in-
formation, decoding, reading, fuency, comprehension, communicating with oth-
ers, grammar, and responding to literacy text. The dominant subdomain is oral
comprehension.
72
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
5. The learning and cognition domain is dominant in the language and mathematics
subject. For language the learning and cognition involved are reading strategies,
planning to write, activating prior knowledge, modifying old knowledge, organiz-
ing, listening attentively, review and revise drafts. For mathematics, the learning
and cognition skills are using model diagrams, mental calculations, and methods
of problem solving. The dominant subdomain are the general learning and study
strategies.
6. The numeracy and mathematics skill is dominant in the mathematics subject. The
numeracy skills include counting, comparing, arranging, sequencing numbers, op-
erations, words problems, measurement, geometry, statistics, and algebra and pat-
terns. The dominant subdomains are number sense and measurement.
7. The science and technology skills are dominant in the subject science. The skills
include classifying, recycling and reusing, setting up models, identifying, conserving,
representing data, interpreting, recording, collecting, concluding, comparing, de-
scribing, exploring and observing. The dominant subdomain on science and tech-
nology is scientifc inquiry.
For all the seven learning domains, the dominant ones in the curriculum with large amount
of skills devoted are the literacy and communication, learning approaches and cognition, and
social and emotional. Science and technology did not turn out to have large frequency because
in some countries like in the Philippines, science is only introduced by grade 3. In Cambodia,
science is integrated with social studies. The lack of science skills for the grades 1 and 2 and in
having it integrated with other subjects (i. e. social studies and arts) reduced the counts of the
skills. There were also few skills identifed for mathematics because the skills are consistent for
all countries and similar skills are counted as 1 point. Literacy is the primary domain with the
largest frequency. This is related with the goal of many countries on targeting literacy in the
early grades. Literacy becomes the dominant learning domain because the skills are founda-
tions for the learner to acquire the other skills. The skills such as phonics, reading, vocabulary,
constructing sentences, and reading comprehension is focused by the early grades to make
each child a reader.
73
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
Table 17. Distribution of Learning Domains per Country
Country
P
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y
Brunei Darussalam 0 5 4 8 5 12 3
Cambodia 4 6 9 4 8 15 11
Indonesia NR NR NR NR NR NR NR
Lao PDR 6 7 13 14 9 9 9
Malaysia 0 0 2 9 2 10 2
Myanmar NR NR NR NR NR NR NR
Philippines 15 3 24 12 24 15 13
Singapore 1 15 4 37 25 16 7
Thailand 5 12 8 31 15 11 8
Timor-Leste NR NR NR NR NR NR NR
Vietnam 0 6 3 7 14 4 4
Singapore and the Philippines have the most number of stated domains as compared to the
South East Asian Countries. This is also infuenced by the availability in the access of the cur-
riculum to these countries and the detailed curriculum per level and per subject area. Singapore
has the highest number of competencies stated for social and emotional, literacy and commu-
nication, learning approach and cognition, and numeracy and mathematics. On the other hand
Philippines have the highest stated competencies on physical well-being, culture and arts, and
science and technology.
It is important to note that Singapore as part of their educational curriculum has developed
the key stage outcomes that is parallel with the learning domains. The key stage outcomes ex-
plain the range of competencies obtained for the Singapore curriculum. For the primary, the
outcomes include be able to distinguish right from wrong (social and emotional), know their
strength and area for growth (physical well-being), be able to cooperate share and care for
others (social and emotional), have a lively curiosity about things (science and technology),
be able to think for and express themselves confdently (language and communication), take
pride in their work (numeracy and mathematics), have healthy habits and an awareness of
the arts (culture and arts), and know and love Singapore (culture and arts). The direction
of the curriculum for the primary students is stated corresponding to the domains of learning.
They are able to demonstrate the success of these developed competencies by consistently
topping the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and Progress in
International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) in fourth grade mathematics (1995, 2003, 2011),
grade eight mathematics (1995, 1999, 2003), fourth grade science (2003, 2007), and eight grade
science (1995, 2003, 2007, 2011).
74
Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
On the other hand, the Philippines have recently revised their basic education curriculum. The
revision rationalizes and addresses the problem in the low rankings of the Filipino students in
the international benchmarking studies such as the TIMMS. Prior to the revision of the curricu-
lum, the previous curriculum (Revised Basic Education Curriculum RBEC) has been studied
and compared with the basic education curriculum of other countries in South East Asia and
New South Wales in Australia. The revision was inferred by the recommendation provided and
resulting to an enhanced curriculum. The new curriculum addresses the crowded content and
misalignment of the coverage across the year levels. The content and skills are now spread with
more time across 13 years of mandatory basic education (K to 12). The curriculum focuses in
the development of the 21
st
century skills that includes learning and innovation skills, life and
career skills, effective communication skills, and information, and media and technology skills.
The specifc 21
st
century skills are also parallel with the seven learning domains. The K to 12
curriculum is enhanced in fve ways:
1. It is learner-centered and focused on the holistically developed Filipino. The topics are
also developmentally appropriate (age appropriate).
2. It is decongested to allow for mastery of competencies.
3. It is seamless. The content, performance standards, and competencies are in a con-
tinuum following the spiral progression model. There are no gaps or overlaps. It ob-
serves vertical alignment of content and performance standards, competencies and
assessment across grade levels. It also supports horizontal alignment of content and
performance standards and competencies between and among learning areas. For
example, the skills like reading graphs will be taught in Math before this is used
in Science, Health and Economics topics; Trigonometric concepts will be taught be-
fore vectors are discussed in physics; The science concepts introduced in K are rein-
forced by the integration of science concepts in Grades 2 and
4. The curriculum will allow fexibility to be responsive to the needs of the community.
For example, an agricultural town may offer agricultural electives for instance. Coastal
areas may offer fshery electives, urban areas on industrial arts. This will also be sys-
tematically matched with labor market studies.
5. The curriculum is integrative. It addresses diverse curricular concerns (e. g., hu-
man rights, media and information literacy, climate change, sustainable development)
through integration to avoid the congestion of the curriculum. It will also be inquiry-
based. The curriculum ensures that the learners have the opportunity develop skills
of creative and critical thinking, informed decision-making, hypothesis-building and
problem-solving. The curriculum will be constructivist learners construct their own
knowledge and understanding out of their experiences. Lastly, the curriculum will be
enriched through the use of appropriate technologies including ICT.
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The enhanced K to 12 curriculum also taps and addresses the seven learning domains. The
Philippines showed high frequencies on physical well-being, culture and arts, and science and
technology. The science subject in the lower primary is taught starting at grade 3, however
science and technology skills were effectively integrated in the other subject areas which con-
tributed to the large frequencies. The culture and arts as well as the physical well-being were
also present in other subject areas. The Philippines is the only country with a curriculum that
integrates the learning of social studies with music, arts, and physical education. The competen-
cies in these areas contributed to the frequency count of skills in the three areas on dominant
competencies.
Weak Areas of
Competencies
T
he weak areas of competencies refer to the subdomains that have few frequencies. The
weak areas also refer to the small number of skills on each of the learning metric.
1. In general physical well-being is weak in majority of the subject areas and in each
countrys curriculum. This is manifested with few number of occurring skills as
compared to the other learning metrics. For grade 1 there is only about 11 skills,
10 skills for grade 2, and 19 skills for grade 3. There are very few and almost no
skills for the subjects on food and nutrition and sexual health. All other additional
subdomains have few frequencies which are considered as variants.
2. The social and emotional learning metric is present in all subject areas and in the
curriculum in all countries. However, the weak areas are present on variants such
as realizing the scarcity of resources and realizing constraints.
3. The culture and the arts are also present in all subject areas and across countries.
However, the weak area with very low frequency (Grade 1 = 2, grade 2 = 1, grade
3 = 1) is on the skill on improving oneself and society. This skill was only present
in the native language subject in Cambodia.
4. The literacy is present in all areas but there are low frequency of skills on the
subdomain labeling, presenting, and pronunciation. Lao PDR is the only country
that indicated pronunciation.
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Primary Learning Metric
5. The subdomains with low frequency in learning approaches and cognition are
cooperation, knowledge, and critical thinking. These skills were not present or
could not be distinguished with the other learning metrics.
6. The weak subdomain in numeracy is rounding off numbers, and patterns and
algebra. These skills are generally introduced in the upper primary and not yet in
the lower primary.
7. The weak subdomain on science and technology skills are on the area of aware-
ness of science and technology and recycling and reusing.
For all the domains, physical well-being and science and technology had the lowest frequencies.
This shows that the subject areas such as language, mathematics, science, and social studies
have few skills tapping on physical well being and science and technology. For the science sub-
ject, the curriculum in South East Asia for the lower primary does not include the teaching of
science in some countries. For example, in the Philippines, science is taught starting in the 3
rd

grade. In Cambodia, science is integrated with social studies.
Variant
Features
T
he variant features refer to the additional skills that were identifed in the curriculum
with low frequencies. Generally these variant features have only about a frequency of 1
in one level and 0 frequency in other levels. Examples of variant features in physical well being
are exploring, improvisation, and demonstrating. For social and emotional domain, the variant
skills are realizing scarcity and constraints. For literacy and communication skills, the variant
skill would be making presentations. For numeracy, the variant skill is patterns and algebra. No
variant skills were determined for culture and arts, learning and cognition, and science and
technology.
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Primary Learning Metric
Recommendations
The new big three. There was an expectation that the curriculum in South East Asia
will be rich in language and communication, numeracy and mathematics, and science and tech-
nology due to being the core subject areas and majority of assessment taking place for these
subjects. However, the fndings in the present study showed that the dominant competencies
are literacy and communication, learning approach and cognition, and social and emotional
domains. These three domains are well integrated in the subjects for language, mathematics,
science, and social studies.
Assessments can focus on measuring these three domains as skills for different subjects. These
three domains do not necessarily imply assessment of the content area but rather an assess-
ment of the competencies involved in different subject areas. For example, the subject in social
studies will involve language, learning approaches, and social and emotional skills. Assessment of
the language skills can easily be manifested using traditional multiple choice items such as iden-
tifying and explaining concepts. However, cognition and learning approaches cannot be readily
measured using traditional assessment. In a reading comprehension test and problem solving,
it can only assume that the learner made use of different strategies to provide the answer. To
directly measure the cognition and learning approaches involved, a child needs to elaborate
what strategies were used to arrive with an answer to a mathematical word problem, what
readings strategy was used to extract the main idea of a text, what method was used to easily
add a two digit additive and addend. To measure accurately cognitive and learning approaches,
a test can be structured allowing for think aloud protocols and the learner explaining how
they arrived with the answer. This is most applicable for assessing children using an individual
performance based task.
The seven learning domains are well-integrated in different subject areas.
It was found that the seven learning domains are not exclusive per subject area. Each of the
seven can be traced and found in the subject areas covered in language, mathematics, science,
and social studies. The domains need to be treated as skills that can be found in all subject areas.
The assessment in different subject areas is recommended to have a blueprint containing the
seven learning domains. The most common taxonomies used in creating test blueprints in-
cludes the Blooms taxonomy of cognitive skills or the revised version, Stiggins and Conklins
taxonomy (knowledge, reasoning, skills, and product), Marzanos dimensions of learning (cogni-
tive, metacognitive, and self systems), and DeBonos six thinking hats. The seven domains can
also be used as taxonomy when creating test blueprints. Specifc items or evidences or tasks
can be created for each of the seven domains.
There is an overlap in the subdomains of the learning metric. There are sub-
domains that are present and found in two or more domains. For example, the subdomain
on health and hygiene, food and nutrition can also be classifed in the science and technology
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Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
domain. The community and civic values in the social and emotional can also be placed in the
culture and arts. Writing and drawing can both in the physical well-being as well as culture and
arts. The defning point in the exercise of placing the skills would be the context of the entire
learning target. The learning target includes behavior and criterion. The behaviors and criterion
are used as further guide to appropriately place the skill on a specifc domain.
When the seven domains are used as a taxonomy, there is a need to further develop the spe-
cifc subdomains they contain and make it exclusive. The exclusivity of specifc subdomains will
make the constriction of evidences or items clear for the developers of the assessment tool.
There is a need to further defne the subdomains of the learning metric. A committee needs
to be formed to formally defne and make the guidelines in identifying specifc skills for each
learning metric. The committee needs to arrive with a consensus on the specifc skills to be
contained in each of the learning domains.
The progression of skills from grades 1 to 3 needs to be improved. It was
found that in the curriculum of some countries the skills are exactly the same for grades 1 to
3 and for some the skills are independent. A good curriculum should show a developmental
process of what the child needs to learn as he/she matures in their learning. The progression
of skills from grades 1 to 3 should how the skills are introduced, developed, and advanced. The
mathematics curriculum in almost all countries shows this clear progression in terms of the
skill on counting: from counting 1 to 100 by year 1, 1 to 1000 by year 2, and 1 to 1,000,000 by
year 3.
The incremental pattern of skills should be evident in the statement of the curriculum. The
increment can be shown by identifying the addition of skills, skills that becomes higher level,
basic to advance, foundation to established, and from support to independence. Having a clear
progression of skills is important when assessment in created for the frst three years. The
clear progression would show the differentiation of skills in having three set of assessment
tools. One could distinguish how the grade 1 will differ with the test for grades 2 and 3. The
differentiation and progression of skills would also show the age appropriate assessment that
can be tested for each year level.
The weak skills need to be addressed in the curriculum. It was found in the re-
port that physical well-being and science and technology skills have low frequencies for the sub-
jects language, mathematics, science, and social studies. There are instances where the language
and mathematics curriculum were elaborate but the skills for the science are more simplifed.
The weak integration of the science and technology skills need to be looked at in the process
of revising the curriculum in each of the countries covered. The curriculum in a country is not
fxed and it is constantly being revised in order to adapt to the needs of a country. The revi-
sion process is an opportunity to think about the role of physical well-being and science and
technology can bring about in further developing the learner.
Appropriateness of a Regional Assessment and System Strengthening Pro-
grams. There are common domains found within the countries of South East Asia especially
in the areas of Language, Mathematics, science and social studies. The highest degree of conver-
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Southeast Asia
Primary Learning Metric
gence or similarity is found for mathematics. The skills on counting, progression of operations,
and number sense in numeracy and mathematics are common to all countries. In language and
communication, reading skills are developed in the frst three years that includes vocabulary
spelling, and reading comprehension. The concepts of living, nonliving things, health and sanita-
tion are common in science and technology. There is a low level of convergence for the social
studies due to the variation in cultural practices and needs among South East Asian countries.
The convergence of skills can be used to come up with regional assessment in South East
Asia. The value of the regional assessment is to monitor how South East Asian countries stand
within the seven learning domains that are more appropriate in their context and given their
curriculum. The learning metrics can serve as the standard skills where the curriculum should
address.
The assessment systems in each country need to be reviewed frst through a systems strength-
ening program. The systems strengthening program is meant for the national and other forms
of assessments to support the seven learning domains that will be conducted in a larger re-
gional assessment. In order for the students to be prepared for the regional assessment, the
classroom assessment and national assessment should contain the same skills covered in the
learning metrics. Results of the regional assessment will eventually serve to provide good infor-
mation in the areas to be improved in the curriculum in South East Asia.
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Primary Learning Metric
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