15.08.2017 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Seminar on Creating & Establishing Practical Mathematics and Science Laboratory in 4 Municipalities in Timor-Leste

5-day seminar-workshop is held in capital Dili, Timor-Leste

A five day seminar-workshop is held in capital Dili at the Knua Sentrál ba Prátika Siénsia no Matemátika or the National Practical Laboratory for Mathematics and Science in the 30 de Agosto Pre-Secondary School in Comoro, Dili, Timor-Leste. The learning activity is organized by the Sentrú Estudu Siénsia no Matemátika (SESIM) or the Science and Mathematics Learning Centre Group of the Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Education of Timor-Leste.

The activity is an initiative within the implementation framework of the Timor-Leste Quality Education for All- the 3rd Cycle Mathematics and Science Curriculum: Provision of National Textbooks’ Student Workbooks, Teacher Guidebooks and Teacher Trainings for Math and Science Project implemented by UNESCO Jakarta in Timor-Leste in partnership with the Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO/SESIM and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

One of the key achievements of the Math and Science Curriculum Revision Project was the establishment of the National Math and Science Practical Laboratory that is now serving as a model and showcase for teaching practical math and science education using indigenous local available materials to enhance teaching math and science subjects that is interesting, joyful and fun towards quality education.

Using the National Practical Laboratory for Math and Science as the bigger backdraft, the five-day seminar-workshop’s objective gathered selected math and science teachers from the 4 municipalities of Bobonaro, Covalima, Ermera and Manatuto from the pre-secondary and secondary level of education and provided them with inputs and actual practical experiences in teaching math and science subjects using practical activities  and discussed how teacher-participants can start establishing and creating their math and science practical laboratories that will also serve as a center showcasing practical teaching and learning of math and science subjects in their respective areas.

A total of 26 participants attended the seminar-workshop with 6 participants from each municipality with 2 additional participants from the municipality of Dili coming from the 30 de Agosto Pre-Secondary School where the national practical laboratory for math and science is located.

The expected output of the seminar-workshop is a concrete plan of activities by the participants in establishing practical math and science laboratories in their respective schools or at the municipal level.

A simple opening programme was made to kick start the 5-day seminar-workshop graced by the Secretary General of Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO, Ms. Maria Angelina Sarmento who welcomed the participants and gave a brief remarks encouraging the participants that the work being done is a pioneering work and a first of its kind in the country in establishing practical laboratory for teaching math and science subjects in their respective municipalities. She provided brief information on the objective of the seminar and the support provided by partners such as UNESCO Jakarta Office, KOICA and the Ministry of Education and mentioned that the initiative of math and science curriculum revision for cycle 3 hoped to contribute to the goal of quality education in Timor-Leste.

Mr. Junaid Naseem, the Coordinator of UNESCO Dili Antenna Office also provided his brief remarks. He said that the activity can be considered small but definitely has a big impact in improving the teaching and learning of students. He further mentioned that UNESCO will continue to work with partners in order to fulfill its mandate. He further said that UNESCO is committed in contributing to the development of Timor-Leste in its mandate areas in education, science, culture and communication and information. He highlighted that UNESCO has a massive networks of expertise in different areas that can be accessed to help existing and future initiatives.

Mr. Francisco da Costa, representing the National Directorate for Secondary Education was also on hand to deliver a brief remarks during the opening programme from the side of the Ministry of Education. He particularly shared recent experiences of the Timor-Leste delegation to the Math Olympiad held in Portugal for which Timorese students participated organized by the CPLP countries (Portuguese speaking countries). From the experience, he said that Timor-Leste needed to prepare its students if it wants to be among the best in the field of math and science within the CPLP. The sharing was an encouragement to the teacher-participants to think further on how to help students learn math and science better in classrooms and become the best.

The main resource person of the 5-day seminar is Mr. Manish Jain from the Indian Institute of Technology in Gandhinagar, Gujarat in India. He is a working professor in IIT who was engaged to provide inputs to teacher-participants of the seminar-workshop. He demonstrated a lot of practical exercises during the 5-day workshop and allowed the participants to be active in doing themselves the practical activities showing their creativeness, skillful construction of experiments and patience in discovering new things. Mr. Jain inspired the participants by not only showing practical activities and examples but sharing stories that are basic to the foundation of science and mathematics including some bits of histories on the subjects.

For most of the teachers participating in the workshop, the exercises and practical activities introduced to them were first time and new for them so that they have been doing so much science in their own hands that these new practical and hands-on activities excited them tremendously, so much so that the workshop started at 8:30 in the morning and went on until 5:30 in the afternoon. Even though the workshop was over in the afternoon, almost everybody stayed for another hour just to play and enjoy math with newspapers and bond paper sheets as part of the practical exercises.

All the materials used in the workshop is locally available and cheap so that every child can have access to interesting science and math teaching and learning. The workshop further showed to the participants that indeed, science and math can be very interesting and can be taught easily using available and local materials. That in fact, science and math education does not need to be complicated and sophisticated in order to learn its concepts and theories and practical activities can further enhance better understanding.

The last day of the seminar-workshop was dedicated to developing respective plans of the participants on how to start the practical math and science laboratories in their respective areas or municipalities. The SESIM team facilitated them to come up with the plan and these plans were gathered as basis to monitor and track the progress of the implementation. Further, the 4 municipalities that participated in the seminar-workshop were provided with boxes full of materials to be used for practical activities and experiments. These materials were initial materials  provided to start off the practical laboratory in their respective municipalities. 

Funding of the 5-day seminar-workshop was provided under the Participation Programme intended for National Commissions extended by UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The funding received from the Participation Programme complimented the Math and Science Curriculum Revision Project in implementing quality education for all in Timor-Leste.

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