Capacity building for joyful and effective teaching and learning in science in Maldives
UNESCO New Delhi Office implemented a project for capacity development in Science Education in Maldives under a Japanese Funds in Trust (JFIT) programme. The project was approved by Government of Japan in the framework of.JFIT for capacity building of human resources and was launched by signing a Plan of Operation between Director UNESCO and Minster of Education Government of Maldives on 30th May 2011.The project assisted the small island nation in enhancing the quality of education through capacity building of teachers and educators reinforced with in-country enhancement of training capacity through development of teacher/educator guides, preparation of teaching learning module and hands on activity kits to make science teaching and learning joyful and relevant to Maldivian situation. The project has been able to address the needs of in-service teacher training by organizing in service training of Maldivian National University students thus strengthening of national and local institutions through technical support. The overall goal of the project was to bring about a qualitative improvement in education which is real-life based, relevant to the contexts of the Atolls and is learner-cantered and competence-based. Moreover, since the activities such as climate change, environment, tourism and fisheries are intimately linked to the life and livelihoods of the Maldivians and make an integral part of curriculum in the Maldives, the project resulted in improved teaching-learning of such concepts and themes.
The formal closing event of the project was organized by the Government of Maldives in association with UNESCO on 13 May 2014 at the Maldives Polytechnics Conference Hall in Male. The event was preceded by the Pre-service teacher Training Workshop from 11 to 13 May 2014. Mr. Nobuhito Hobo, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Maldives was the Chief Guest of the ceremony. Among the prominent attendees at the event included Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and Representative and Dr Ram Boojh, Programme Chief of Science and Focal Point for Maldives from the UNESCO New Delhi Office, Mr Adam Shareef Umar, Minister of State for Education, Dr Addulla Nazeer, Minister of State for Education, Dr Abdul Muhsin Mohamed, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Ms Aminath Namza, Co-ordinator Foreign Relations and Secretary General – Maldives National Commission for UNESCO/ ISESCO and Ms Gulfishan Shafeeu, Senior Curriculum Developer, National Institute for Education(NIE), Ministry of Education. The event marked the launch of the educational kit developed under the project as well as award of official certificate of completion of the training to participants. Officials from the Ministry of Education, and National Commission for UNESCO, resource persons from CEE India (Ms Shivani Jain and Mr Parthesh Pandya) and an external evaluator (Ms Alka Tomar) were also present. Speaking on the occasion Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and Representative UNESCO appreciated the Government of Maldives for their enthusiastic support to the project and remarked that the project will bring Maldives one step closer to their goal of achieving quality education that is not only sustainable but also faces the countries challenges regarding teacher training and provision of science education capability. He commended the Government of Japan for the liberal support for the project and hoped that this support will continue in future as well to sustain the initiative in Maldives. He informed about the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable development (DESD) which is ending this year and a world conference is being organized at Nagoya in Japan in November 2014 to review the progress and prepare a post Decade strategy to be rolled out in close alignment with the sustainable development goals to take the place of MDGs post 2015.
Dr Addulla Nazeer, Minister of State for Education in his address reiterated the commitment of the Government of Maldives to such programmes which are important for preparing a workforce trained in science and technology. He requested the Japanese Ambasador present on the occasion to continue support to the project in order to sustain the momentum generated during this phase.
Mr Adam Shareef Umar, Minister of State for Education expressed the need for more such programmes in the country. He also outlined that the focus should be on grades 1-3 and on providing science kits in all schools. Now, that the Ministry of Education, Maldives have firmed up new outlook, policies and introducing its new curriculum in 2015 in 211 schools. The government is looking forward to institutionalise the outcome, learnings and experiences from the UNESCO- JFIT project into its government mechanism and future plan of action.
Mr Nobuhito Hobo, Japanese Ambassador in his address emphasized that education is a basic human need and an essential component of human society. He informed that the Government of Japan has created the UNESCO JFIT to promote education for sustainable development globally and science education programme being implemented in Maldives is part of the initiative. He further mentioned that the Government of japan is committed to provide support to this kind of initiative in the Island nation. Earlier Ms Ms Aminath Namza, Secretary General – Maldives National Commission for UNESCO/ ISESCO welcomed the distinguished guests and participants. Ms Gulfishan Shafeeu of the National Institute for Education (NIE) presented a brief progress of the project and its main outcomes and impacts. Dr ram Boojh of UNESCO New Delhi proposed a vote of thanks at the end.
About the project
The project was implemented in association with the Maldives National Commission for UNESCO in partnership with the Ministry of Education (National Institute of Education-NIE). Centre for Environment Education (CEE), India was involved in the project to provide technical support to the project. Major activities undertaken as part of the project included development of teacher/educator guides, preparation of teaching learning module and hands on activity kit, exposure visit of a select group of teachers/educators to India to learn good practices in science education, training of master trainers and teachers, and pre service teacher training. The learning kit and teachers guide developed is meant for teaching sciences in a comprehensive and sustainable way in the school system. The project gave an opportunity to teachers to get a better understanding of the teaching methodology and transaction in the classroom as well as development of teaching/learning material learning and skill development by linking these to curriculum.
The project provided important lessons for UNESCO and partners to understand challenges involved in science education particularly in the small island country spread across a large number of atolls at different geographical locations. There have been some concerns like the political situations which resulted in delays and uncertainties in decision making during the implementation of the project. However, the reformative and review phase of formal education in the country provided the right environment and opportunity for bringing about changes and modifications for science education. The project acted as a pilot of working with teachers and teachers educators—basic unit within the chain of formal education system. Considering this experience and the fact that NIE has now been re-constituted, there is a need to undertake systemic level analysis and interventions—towards enhancing not just teacher training aspect but also material and textbook development processes and also establishing operational mechanism for sustaining the momentum achieved in this phase of work. Such an input will be mainly at the NIE level. Further, there is need to reach out to schools and TRCs , simultaneously in different atolls through training and capacity building of more teachers, development of science teaching leaning facilities in classrooms, strengthening of virtual learning and training platforms etc. The developed material, trained resource persons and teachers and overall the enthusiastic participation of the Education Ministry (NIE) and the NATCOM assures the healthy sustainability of the initiative.
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