580 Mathematics and science education teachers from 20 Counties recently underwent a five day training course on expectations of the ongoing school curriculum reforms that lay emphasis on making learners acquire competencies to fit in the 21st century work environment.
The Coordinator of secondary programmers at the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) that facilitated the courses Mr John Makanda said the program to be continued during the April holidays targeted 1117 teachers from 47 counties to in-turn serve as trainers for 8013 teaches during school holidays. The courses were held at centres in Embu, Nakuru, Nyandarua and Nairobi Counties.
The teachers were taken through the tenets of Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) where students gain knowledge by questioning and investigating information received from their teachers as opposed to imbibing established facts unchallenged as has been the vogue in the past.
“The method places students’ questions, ideas and observations at the centre of learning experience to enhance the teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge to inspire learners to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related disciplines key in helping the country achieve Vision 2030,” said Mr Makanda.
He said IBL enabled learners to be engaged in authentic investigations in which they identify problems, ask questions, propose solutions, make predictions, design procedures, collect and organize data and draw conclusions.
“The method presupposes that teachers establish a classroom culture where ideas are respectfully challenged, tested, refined and improved,” explained Mr. Makanda
“The culture in the classroom should be one that allows shifting learners from a position of wondering to that of understanding and questioning,” he noted.
Specially trained facilitators from CEMASTEA gave the participants sample lessons on the elements of instructional model adopted by the new curriculum to ensure that learning happens by way of engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration and evaluation (5E).
Teachers in four subject areas of chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics were coached on ways to motivate learners, create interest in the lessons, tap into what students know or think about the topic and ask key questions while encouraging response from their students.
Facilitators in each of the four subjects explained the rationale, objectives, goal and expected outcomes for sessions. They told teachers to appreciate IBL as a systematic process that begins with framing the investigation by identifying the questions to be answered. They said the final stage in IBL comprised reflecting about the inquiry activity with a view to engaging in further investigations.
The Director of CEMASTEA Mr Stephen Njoroge who addressed participants at Tabor Hill Centre in Nyandarua County said mathematics and science were the building blocks in technology adding that the centre was privileged to serve the entire African continent where its programs are recognized even at the African Union level. “We have a Strengthening Mathematics And Science Education (SMASE) training coming up in Senegal to be executed by these very facilitators. That is how much Africa trusts CEMASTEA,” he said.
He described the ongoing training of teachers for the new curriculum as “very important” in the new education order sweeping across the continent.
A don at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) Rev Dr. Simeon Njuguna praised the novel method as a step in the right direction for the country to realize its industrialization dreams. “I have come across engineering students who come to our universities A don at the Catholic University of east Africa with straight As from high school yet they cannot grasp simple engineering principles and find it hard to integrate,’ he said at Tapor Hill Centre.