25.06.2014 - UNESCO Office in Apia

In-service teacher workshops at the National University of Samoa


The second in-service teacher education workshops for science, computing and mathematics teachers in secondary schools opened at the National University of Samoa on 23 June 2014.

The workshops were funded by Japan Funds-in-Trust and supported by UNESCO and were organised and facilitated by specialist lecturers at the National University of Samoa (NUS).  Invited guests and speakers included the Vice Chancellor of NUS Professor Leapai Asofou So'o, His Excellency Mr Kazumasa Shibuta the Ambassador from Japan, Mr Matafeo Falana'ipupu Tanielu Aiafi, Chief Executive Officer from the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, the Reverend Vavatau Taufao, lecturers at the NUS, the Director, Mr. Etienne Clement, of UNESCO Office for the Pacific States,  invited guests from the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture and representatives from secondary education in Samoa and secondary school teachers of science, mathematics and computing in Samoa. The workshops were organised and managed by Dr Des Lee Hang of the NUS and his team.

Education has the power to transform lives through reducing poverty, boosting economic growth and it can improve your chance of having a healthier lifestyle.  UNESCO is part of a global commitment towards furthering the goals of Education for All (EFA), working towards ensuring that a quality basic education is available for all children, youth and adults by 2015.  The six goals of EFA (early childhood education and care, quality primary education for all, continuing education and life skills, literacy, gender equality and improving quality education) provide a focus for the work that is done. It is already obvious that these goals will not be reached globally in many countries by 2015 but it is not too late to accelerate progress towards these goals and continue to plan for post 2015 achievement of these goals.

The recently published EFA Global Monitoring report 2013/4 focuses on teaching and learning, reflecting the critical role that teachers have in addressing this global learning crisis. Four key strategies were mentioned as significant measures to provide the very best teachers for children. These strategies related to attracting the best teachers, improving teacher education so that all can learn, ensuring that teachers are available and qualified in all schools, and providing incentives to retain the best teachers.

These workshops addressed the second key strategy, the importance of improving teacher education so teachers can better support children's learning. Teachers must have a good understanding of the subjects they are teaching, both of content knowledge and knowledge of how to teach that particular subject (pedagogical content knowledge). This knowledge becomes increasingly important as children progress through to secondary school where they are taught by specialist teachers. While initial teacher education is very important, it is also important for teachers to have on-going professional development to maintain and improve their skills. Teachers need to have continuing support when in the classroom to enable them to reflect on their teaching practice and help them adapt to change. Teachers who receive some inservice education are generally found to teach better than those who have not. Ongoing training is even more important for teachers who need support, those who for some reason or other are teaching in areas where they may not be appropriately qualified. Inservice teacher education plays a key role in improving learning outcomes by providing teachers with new ideas throughout their career.

This was the second teacher education workshop supported by UNESCO. The first one in 2013 was supported by CapEFA funds and this current one was possible due to the generosity of the Japanese Government.  Student achievement at the secondary level, particularly in the sciences and mathematics, is low. This workshop was designed to address this issue through further developing the pedagogical content knowledge of the teachers who participated. About 200 teachers of physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, design technology and computing were expected to attend over the course of the week's in-service.  

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