Yemeni universities’ bid to reform mathematics and science teacher education [Archives:2007/1053/Education]

May 21 2007

By: Dr Ayid Sharyan
(Associate Professor)
Department of English
Faculty of Education
Sana'a University, Sana'a
[email protected]

The MASTERY project (Mathematics and Science Teacher Education Reform in Yemen) is the first of its type in Yemen. It held a workshop from 20-22 February 2007 at the Population Center, Sana'a University on 'Course development' to reform science education in Al-Hodeidah University, Thamar University, and Sana'a University.

This is a project like the other Dutch projects: Business Administration and General Administration at the Faculty of Commerce, Sana'a University, a recent project at the Faculty of Engineering, Taiz University, a project for vocational courses at community colleges as well as others in public Education. These projects come as a result of an agreement between Yemen and NUFFIC (a Dutch agency for developing overseas programs in the Netherlands) as well as the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the case of MASTERY to reform Science Teacher Education at the Faculties of Education in aforementioned universities. The project aims at bridging the gap between the curriculums of the ministry of education in Yemen and the Yemeni universities, in addition to other major issues, e.g. teaching practice, teaching methods, evaluation, gender balance, using labs, as well as relation between institutions. After revising the international academic standards, the MASTERY project team specified the academic standards for the new programs, taking into account the local specificity and the content matters. The project now works on mapping of standards that lead to finalizing the number of credit hours and courses descriptions.

More than 40 participants came from the participating universities and from other educational bodies in Yemen such as the Educational Research and Development Centre, and the Education Development Centre of Sana'a University.

The Dutch experts outlined some new concepts that lead to active learning. The participants discussed the format and content of a template that includes learning objectives, learning outcomes, and realistic estimate of available time. Suggestions were made to consider topics, activities and assessment 'horizontally' in the teaching and learning plan, in a 'landscape layout'. After producing sample plans, the Dutch experts led a discussion on the follow-up work needed and submitted a blueprint to implement the new programs.

This was followed by a meeting (12 April 2007) for the three teams from the participating universities to compare the mapping of standards to the courses. There was an agreement on the standards and the number of credit hours for the programs of mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, and educational courses. This work will eventually be followed by writing the course description for level one with its implementation beginning in the coming academic year.

The number of credit hours in content for each major ranges from 72 to 78, with about 8 to 12 hours for supporting courses. Since the total load varies between 126 and 132, the rest is devoted for faculty and university requirements. There will be some variation between universities, but about 90 percent agreement is expected. This work will set the stage for course profiles or descriptions that include aims, teaching methods, content, assessment methods, intended learning outcomes and references, etc.

This is to be followed by a workshop on 24-26 April 2007 at the Department of Geology, Sana'a University to check the result of the work of the teams. This working meeting also focuses on producing low cost equipment to train a large number of teachers on the use and production of low cost equipment. A number of Dutch and local experts will participate in this workshop.

The project plans to keep up its efforts in holding many activities during this year; such as

– needs analysis in-service education (April)

– Low -cost equipment workshop (late April)

– Workshop on course manuals (May)

– Workshop on school-based practice (with the Ministry of Education) (June)

– Possible working visit of science educators outside the country to prepare for first year courses (July)

– Technicians training.

These activities are part of the program of curriculum review and reform, staff training, and design and piloting of new teacher education courses. Through these processes, the project hopes to improve the quality, relevance and effectiveness of the training of science and mathematics teachers. The project is designed to implement new science teacher education programs that will give student teachers the knowledge and skills to teach the secondary school pupils according to the new secondary school science curriculum. It tries to increase the service capability of the Faculties of Science at the participating universities through curriculum development, technician training and provide equipment for updated laboratories. The final stage of the project will produce a plan to extend the project to other Yemeni universities.