Teachers learn how to make mathematics and science learning interesting

Teachers at the SMASE training in Machakos County. [Joe Ombuor, Standard]
Thousands of mathematics and science teachers from 27 Counties have been taught on how to make the subjects more interesting and attractive.

The training was organised by the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA).

The week long training sessions at select schools under the umbrella of Strengthening Mathematics and Science Education (SMASE) project saw principals, their deputies and heads of departments with 21 years experience and above hone their skills to accommodate more input from students as opposed to spoon feeding to pass examinations.

“SMASE encourages innovation, creativity and participation, removing the wrong notion that the teacher is an island of knowledge,” said CEMASTEA Director Mr Stephen Njoroge at Tala Girls’ High School in Machakos County where 93 teachers drawn from five Sub Counties underwent training.

He urged heads of schools adequately equipped with facilities such as laboratories to share them with less endowed schools in their neighborhoods.

“Feel free to share even teachers where possible because mathematics and science are still starved of skillful teachers,” said Mr Njoroge.

He advised Science and mathematics teachers never to paint the subjects as too tough or complicated for average students by setting unnecessarily complicated tests or awarding discouragingly poor marks after routine tests.

“Show tweak students that they have what it takes to make it. You do not develop students by making them appear hopeless because so doing is counter-productive and makes them hate both the teacher and the subject with disastrous consequences for their future careers,” admonished Mr Njoroge.

He empathized with school heads who had to grapple with the absence of basics such as computers and laboratories and promised that CEMASTEA would assist wherever possible with basic items such as computer lap-tops.

The five day training was premised on the principal of five E-s that stand for explain, engage, explore, elaborate and evaluate for effective teaching and learning.

Teachers interviewed said the novel approach evolved by SMASE removed monotony, making teaching and learning enjoyable by creating room for innovation and alternatives that lack in ordinary circumstances.

“SMASE leaves both teachers and students with more accommodative mindsets and a greater mastery of content,” said Ms Margaret Owako, biology teacher and Principal of Miwani Secondary School in Machakos County.

“We have learnt that there are things that can be improvised when conditions so demand ad that giving up is never an alternative,” she said, echoing the sentiments expressed by her colleagues.

Mr George Kiruja who oversaw the training of 101 teachers at Machakos Girls’ High School described the five day session as timely at a time teacher professional development policy reforms were being formulated by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

“It gave the teachers an opportunity to get updated on current practices and policy changes necessary for modern day learning,” he said.

Teachers at SMASE training in Machakos County. [Joe Ombuor, Standard]
The latest training after the one that took place in 20 Counties  last year was the culmination of the SMASE project  launched in 1998 with the assistance of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and scaled up to all counties in 2003 through CEMASTEA.

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