04.07.2016 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

SDG 4 - UNESCO Jakarta starts Second Phase of National Teacher Training for the Mathematics and Science Curriculum Revision for 3rd Cycle of Basic Education in Timor-Leste

On June 21, 2016, the Vice Minister of Education, Dulce Soares, launched the phase II UNESCO trainings with district directors and inspectors, asking them to please do all they can to see the successful fruition of this work in their schools. Around 115 teachers representing nearly all junior-high science and mathematics instructors in two southern districts in Timor-Leste attended a full week training in their district capital during the last week of June 2016. The goal of the training was to learn the main elements of the revised curriculum, receive the new teacher guides and practical manuals, and personally carry out each practical activity that they’ll be required to teach their students in the third trimester, August through November. This is the beginning of phase II, which will involve 8 districts of Timor-Leste.

Both the curriculum revision and the trainings are being carried out by the roughly 15 teacher-trainers of SEISM, the Center for the Study of Science and Mathematics, a division of the National Commission for UNESCO, which resides under the auspices of the Timor-Leste Ministry of Education.  Funding for the work has come from KOICA, Korea’s international Development Agency through UNESCO Jakarta. 

In May this year, the final of the year-long three-training regimen was finished in Bobonaro district, marking the end of phase I, which served 5 of the 13 districts of Timor-Leste.  Each of the three trainings addresses the topics from the upcoming trimester, according to the national curriculum.  The curriculum revision, which was carried out from 2014 to 2015, maintained the current syllabus and textbooks and added around 50 mandatory practical activities in both mathematics and science.  Time for these additional activities was obtained through making optional various sections of the syllabus, allowing teachers to focus on more relevant sections and hands-on learning. 

Teachers are receiving the training very well, and are very excited to be doing hands-on activities themselves. In Timor-Leste’s history there have been very few opportunities for teachers to learn and apply hands-on and inquiry pedagogy.  In general teachers are still without good preparation or qualification for their positions, 16 years after Timor-Leste gained freedom from Indonesia.  Many older teachers from Indonesian times have been eager to obtain this additional assistance and younger teachers with few skills outside the conventional lecture-and-listen method are also keen to learn more effective ways. 

The current third-trimester trainings in science include primarily biology topics, including dissections of cow or pig lungs and full chickens with particular attention to the digestive system, constructing simple models of the heart and lungs as well as animal and vegetable cells, games simulating population growth and sustainable use of natural resources, analyzing trash including where it came from and where it should go, creating diagrams of food chains and the human reproductive system, two experiments with the germination and growth of beans, experiments to observe transpiration and fluid transport in plants and the effect of pollution on plants, and a demonstration of the dangers of smoking.  

In the mathematics section, a wide diversity of topics appear in the third trimester.  Practical activities include shooting rubber bands at a stick (a local game) and calculating the statistics of success, calculating and then measuring the surface area and volume of various geometric forms, writing and graphing equations from the economics of the local market, categorizing the intersection of lines and planes in space, constructing geometric solids from plans of their surfaces on a paper, applying the Pythagorean theorem, taking and analyzing data among a group of people, graphing inverse linear functions, and making compasses to construct and analyze circles. 

Both national and district level officials were pleased to be part of the organization of this training.

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