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Oct 7, 2016

Teachers Training in Science Education under UNESCO

A two-day workshop to train teachers in science education was underway today in Belize City. Fifteen primary school teachers from across the country were hard at work with micro science kits which they will be using for science education. Last year seven schools participated in the UNESCO Global Micro Science Project and the number was doubled this year to reach more students. After seeing Guyana’s success with the project where they recorded marked improvement in Science CXC grades, Belize is hoping for similar success. News Five’s Andrea Polanco attended today’s workshop.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Around twenty five high school teachers are learning to use micro science kits or mini to incorporate in their daily Science lessons.  The min-labs are being used in a two day workshop and it is hoped that the participants will transfer skills that will help high school students to perform better in CSEC science based subjects.

 

Orlando Medina

Orlando Medina, Science Curriculum Officer, QUADS- MOE

“What they teachers are essentially doing these two days, are getting familiar with this as a tool to use in the delivery of Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Integrated Science at the high school level. We introduce them to the kits, the components of the kits and we actually have them do some hands on experimentation, as they will be doing in a little while.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Talk to us a little about the kits; what do the kits entail?”

 

Orlando Medina

“They are basically mobile labs, as you would say. They are very small but the amount of labs that the teachers can do. What we are doing ideally too is not just supplying teachers with these little kits but the resources that they will need to use the kits; which includes teacher manuals and student manuals. In those manuals it outlines the number of labs, like for example, I know that there is one case where it’s like thirty labs that can be done using one little kit. What we are doing these two days too most importantly is to link the labs to CSCE. Because one of the challenges we had last year was that the teachers were not seeing that correlation how we can actually use these labs to do CSEC labs. That way we encourage them to do more practical work. And as I had spoken with them a little while ago, I had encouraged them to do practical experiences in lecturing. We have a tendency in Belize to lecture and have a specific days for labs. With these kits, the experimentations are so simple and the time it takes is so short that they can actually incorporate it into their teaching, which is ideally where we want to go.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Will the Ministry be monitoring the impact of this project; when you look at the performance of the students and the curriculum, will there be curriculum changes to incorporate what the teachers are learning here.”

 

Orlando Medina

“Definitely. In terms of the monitoring, we are looking at two things. We are looking at enrolment in the Sciences and CSEC performance, which we have that sort of data. We have started from last year with the data that were there and we are going to track that data over the yearsto see if there are improvements throughout the years. One of the things we do as part of the way we choose our schools is very crucial in that sense because some of the schools that are here are very small schools and rural schools and schools that are not performing too well in the Sciences. In terms of the curriculum, definitely we are working with teachers. Ideally, the reality for the third and fourth levels the CSEC curriculum is there and teachers use that CSEC curriculum since they are preparing students for these exams. We are also looking at lower secondary.”

 

This UNESCO led project is only a small part of a wider Caribbean initiative to get more students interested in Science based courses. It will help to address the shortage of trained teachers and lack of lab resources:

 

Petal Jetoo

Petal Jetoo, Regional Coordinator & Trainer, UNESCO Global Micro-Science Project

“In building capacity for Science Education, UNESCO decided to introduce its Global Micro Science Experiments Project as a low costeffective initiative for the capacities in Science Education; .At a time when less than twenty percent of our Caribbean students enroll in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, mainly because we have a shortage of trained teachers and we have challenges in resourcing our laboratories for Science Education.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How do you follow it up to see that what they are doing here is being translated into the classroom and applied after?”

 

Petal Jetoo

“Thank you for the question. I will share with you the model of implementation for this project. This workshop is one central workshop. But the way the implementation is designed is that there is gonna be follow-up district workshop for all of the districts under the pilot project. And we have a school based component where trainers will go into the schools and we will support the teachers and the students and they will be able to run experiments so the learning from this workshop transitions smoothly into the classroom setting. And it gives also the teachers the confidence that while they have used these micro-science kits away from a school environment, how it fits in a school environment and how it actually works in a real school environment.”

 

Rudolph Anthony

Dr. Rudolph Anthony, Sec. Gen, UNESCO Belize

“We submitted what we call a participation project to UNESCO Paris and they approved it for forty two thousand Belize dollars and with that we will be purchasing more kits and having this two days’ workshop and assisting the facilitators with a stipend and all that. UNESCO stands to assist countries like Belize to advance their people, to help uplift them, to build them, to promote them, to get them interested in areas like these.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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