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Oct 24, 2017

Centering Student Learning of the Math and Sciences

The Ministry of Education for some time now has been exploring an active and practical way of learning math, science and language arts for primary school students. Over the weekend, a first cohort of teachers graduated from a professional development certification program, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank. Facilitated by Mount Saint Vincent University in Canada, teachers were taught a student-centered learning approach for the classrooms. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Twenty-five primary school teachers have successfully completed a professional development course organized by the Ministry of Education. Professors from Mount Saint Vincent University in Canada facilitated the training which taught teachers an interactive approach to teaching, in an effort to improve learning for students. Entitled Visible and Tangible Models for Teaching Math Science and Language Arts, C.E.O. Deborah Domingo explains this initiative.

 

Deborah Domingo

Deborah Domingo, C.E.O., Ministry of Education

“It is a part of a broader initiative of the Ministry of Education to help to transform our education sector and trying to attack it from various angles. And one of the things we want to do is to have classroom spaces that are really engaging of students and so it is meant to equip our teachers particularly at the primary level and the pre-primary level with a repertoire of strategies to teach those core subjects and really engage students.”

 

Since the beginning of the new school year, teachers from the demonstration schools have been applying skills learnt within the classroom. Many have stepped away from the traditional approach to a more interactive type of learning. Doctor Elizabeth Church says that it’s about integrating new techniques into what’s already being taught.

 

Elizabeth Church

Dr. Elizabeth Church, Vice President of Academic & Provost, Mount Saint Vincent University

“That’s really what our hope was; to build on the work that the Belizean Ministry of Education has done in developing curriculum outcomes and then helping teachers figure out how to implement that practice in schools. It’s what’s called student centered learning. When students are actively involved in their own education, they become more motivated to learn, they get really involved. They want to learn, they are asking questions. They get an opportunity as well…we do a lot of teamwork so that the students can work together and learn how to cooperate, so when they go into the world they can do that as well.”

 

Training for the teachers was made possible through a ten-million U.S. dollar loan from the Inter-American Development Bank. The five-year education project, which ends in 2019, falls in line with the bank’s mandate to assist the country.

 

Jose Manuel Ruiz

Jose Manuel Ruiz, Chief of Operations, I.D.B. (Belize)

“The education sector is one of the sectors that is in the IDB’s strategy with the country. The bank along with the government decided to put in place this program to improve the impact in the results of government’s investment in education. Sometimes governments put a lot of money in education and they want to see results so the purpose of this program is not only to have teachers that know the subjects but teachers that have the right techniques to teach those subjects to the kids.”

 

According to C.E.O. Domingo, while this is the first cohort of teachers being trained, the program will extend countrywide. The goal is to improve the foundation of learning and see changes in the P.S.E. results.

 

Deborah Domingo

“There is an abundance of studies that will tell you that if a government or a country wants to transform education that teachers are the key to that. And we believe that if teaching methods are such that students are active participants—they are doing things, manipulating things, then learning truly happens and it sticks. And so while we want to see the methods at play, the most important thing is the impact we expect it to have on student achievement. This program involves the entire staff or more than half of all primary schools across the country. The program will have us with about a hundred schools not covered and so that becomes the challenge for the Ministry of Education; how do we get it out to all. And as we’ve been going through it, we’ve been monitoring the impact on student achievement. There’s been some data collection as a part of the monitoring and evaluation framework and the results are promising and so that I think makes it an obligation on our part. If it is working, then all our students should benefit from it.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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