Attempt to replicate US science, maths successes in Gambia reveals amazing outcome- report

Fatou Lamin Faye

Fatou Lamin Faye, basic and secondary education minister of The Gambia

A report released by the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) on January 27, has indicated that an academic partnership, bordering on improving maths and science in Gambian schools, between the CTL and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education has scored a positive result.

The partnership, which was funded by the World Bank, was meant to explore if the dramatic gains in math and science students’ achievements seen from CTL’s programs in New Jersey and other U.S. states could be replicated in West Africa.

The report shows that participating students made considerable gains on the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

The report indicated that a gain of 600% was achieved in the number of students receiving a top score of ‘1’ in physics— 1% in 2012 to 6% in 2015— while a gain of 300% was seen in Further Mathematics— 4% in 2012 to 12% in 2015.

The partnership began in August 2012 through a close collaboration between the organizations.

Together they began training an initial cohort of 24 Gambian teachers in a new approach to teaching: the Progressive Science Initiative and the Progressive Mathematics Initiative— programs, the report claimed, have demonstrated strong success in effective classroom learning and teacher training in the United States.

PSI and PMI engage both teachers and students through the integration of pedagogy, curriculum and assessment through the use of modern classroom technology.

Interactive white boards and student polling devices facilitate the use of CTL’s free open source curriculum materials to create highly collaborative classrooms.

The reported stated that the results are so promising that plans are in the works to expand the program to grades 7-12 throughout The Gambia.

Further building upon the program’s success, CTL has also recently entered a contract with MoBSE to provide fast track digital content development of English Language Arts (ELA), the report added.

“The program has proven to be very effective in improving students’ interest in mathematics and science. This positive outcome could be explained by the socio-constructivist approach to pedagogy employed in the program,” Baboucarr Bouy, Permanent Secretary of MoBSE was quoted as saying.

“This approach brings to bear a perfect balance of the instrumental and experiential aspects of teaching and learning that keep the learners active, engaged and aware of their progress as it avails them the opportunity to assess themselves as individuals or as a group. It also provides them with the ego and stamina to work either independently or as a group for a longer period of time without getting bored.”

The report has been hailed by both the CTL and the World Bank.

“We could not be more pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education in The Gambia,” Dr. Robert Goodman, CTL Executive Director also said.

“It is inspiring to see how teachers across the country are making the science and mathematics pedagogy their own — and engaging their students to reach new levels of understanding and achievement.  We hope that this new approach will prove helpful for many more countries throughout Africa and the world.”

“PSI-PMI is an innovative approach and the pilot program has been working well in The Gambia — the students participating in the courses are enthusiastic about math and science now.  We are excited about the development of ELA, which is expected to improve learning outcomes of English in grades 7-12,” Ryoko Tomita, World Bank Task Team Leader of The Gambia Education and Economist, added.

The New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to empower teachers to lead change so that all children have access to a high quality education.




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