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Maths and Science Teachers ’Excitement for their Capacity Building in Lab Practical Skills

28 Jul 2023

The University of Rwanda-College of Education (UR-CE) in partnership with the Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB) developed and introduced the Continuous Professional Development Program (CPD)in Innovative Teaching Methods for Mathematics and Science (CPD-ITMS) for teachers in upper primary through lower secondary grades (P4-S3). The implementation activities of this CPD are financed by the Rwanda Quality Basic Education for Human Capital Development (RQBEHCD) project, sub-component 1.2. The Sub-component aims to modernize instructional tools and enhance the knowledge and pedagogical skills of targeted teachers. From end-May up to mid-July 2023, STEM teachers enrolled in the CPD-ITMS Cohort 2023 were trained in different shifts on Laboratory Experiments. According to an interview we had with some of those teachers, they are thrilled to have been equipped with laboratory practical skills which will enable them to support their students more effectively.

Venuste Munyabugingo, Chemistry teacher at GS Remera Catholic in the Gasabo District noted, "This program has helped me in many ways. For instance, it has improved the way I plan and deliver my lessons. Additionally, I had trouble using the science kits at school, but I have since improved. Sincerely speaking, he continued, I used to solely transcribe notes from books during my lessons, but I have now concluded that this was a poor teaching strategy. As a result, my pupils are more eager to complete actual laboratory tasks.

Marie Claire Nyampinga, Chemistry Teacher at Groupe Scolaire Notre Dame de Lourdes Byimana, noted, "In this CPD training, especially Lab experiments, I was much interested by the laboratory practical works related to the combination of reaction of sulphur, then iron metal, exothermic reaction of magnesium and hydrochloric acid, electrolysis of copper sulphate and its application, and Daniel cell (electrochemistry) production of electricity from chemical energy."

Most teaches, according to Jean Damascene Hakizimana, a Physics teacher at GS Kimironko II, were accustomed to teaching theoretically before attending this CPD. Since they received this training, he noted, there has been a notable change in the teaching technique. He stated that, "Frankly speaking, our teaching methods were not learner-cantered," but, he went on, we have now conformed our teachings to the principles of the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC)." "We are interested by different practical activities that our facilitators helped us carry out so that we can teach our students more effectively," he added

In agreement with his colleagues, Janvier Uwizeye, a Chemistry teacher at GS Muhurire in the Ngoma District, stated that he had difficulty carrying out lab experiments prior to the training. He made it clear that he didn’t know how to measure the amount of chemicals needed to perform acid-base titration, but he credits the CPD for helping him learn the essential skills.

It seems that all STEM teachers experienced similar problems. Chemistry teacher Frida NIYONKURU from G.S. Nyamugali, Ngoma District, praised UR-CE and REB for planning the CPD program in which she was chosen to take part. "I am grateful that I was chosen for this program. I have learnt a lot that has aided me in properly delivering my lessons. For instance, I now fully understand how to identify ions and Acid-Base Titration, something I did not understand before. I feel more confident than ever conducting lab experiments at my school," she said.

The CPD program has been quite helpful, said Athanase HABAGUHIRWA, a Physics teacher at GS GASENYI in the Kirehe District. "I can now see how to use CBC clearly because of it. As a result of participating in this program, I no longer apply KBC (Competence-Based Curriculum). Additionally, the lab experiments we are undertaking are crucial to us and the students, he remarked.

When asked specifically about the goal of the training on Laboratory Experiments, Dr. Theophile Nsengimana, a lecturer at the University of Rwanda and the Deputy Team Leader of the RQBEHCD sub-component 1.2, replied that it was intended to close gaps among STEM teachers that had been identified by various studies.

First and foremost, their inclusion was intended to close the gaps. Second, one of the methods to apply a Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) is through investigative methods that include hands-on activities or experiments. He added that by completing practical tasks, students build their scientific knowledge while also honing generic abilities like critical analysis and problem-solving, creativity and innovation, cooperation, and interpersonal relations, among others.”

The main goal of the CPD program in Innovative Teaching Methods for Mathematics and Science is to train in-service Mathematics and Science teachers in innovative teaching approaches and in the use of contemporary instructional technologies. They are thought to be more equipped to adapt to the demands of the new curriculum because of this. The CPD is also set to enhance the knowledge and pedagogical practices of Mathematics and Science teachers in upper primary through lower secondary grades(P4-S3).

Story by

NTIRANDEKURA Schadrac
Public Relations and Community Engagement Officer
University of Rwanda-College of Education

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