Annie L. Kilpatrick1,2, Ketsomsouk Bouphavanh3, Sourideth Sengchanh3, Vannyda Namvongsa3 & Amy Z. Gray1,2

1Centre for International Child Health, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Australia; 2The Royal Children’s Hospital, Australia; 3Education Development Centre, Faculty of Medicine, University of Health Sciences, Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Abstract

Aim: To understand the needs and preferences of students at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) in relation to access to educational materials in order to develop a strategy for development of educational resources for students at UHS.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional semi-structured survey of 507 students, staff and post-graduate residents from a range of faculties at UHS regarding current learning resources, access to educational aids and online learning. Focus groups of survey participants were conducted for in-depth understanding of desired materials and challenges faced.

Results: There was an overwhelming request by students for greater access to learning resources. The main areas of difficulty include English language capacity, limited local language resources alongside poor internet access and limited competence in navigating its use. Students would prefer learning resources in their own language (Lao); many potential study hours are being consumed by students searching for and translating resources.

Conclusions: Students in Lao PDR describe multiple barriers in accessing appropriate resources for their learning. Scoping current access and needs through this research has enabled us to better plan investment of limited resources for educational material development in Lao PDR, as well as highlight issues which may be applicable to other low resource setting countries.

Keywords:            Medical Education, Student Preferences, University, Learning Resources, Low Resource Setting

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