Skills training is at the heart of a new programme designed to support teachers and bring science learning to life for Solomon Islands’ school children. Skills training is at the heart of a new programme designed to support teachers and bring science learning to life for Solomon Islands’ school children.
The Aotearoa New Zealand-funded Pacific e-Learning programme aims to overcome barriers of distance and resourcing by delivering teaching and learning materials directly into teachers’ hands via mobile phone.
Teachers use a custom app – called Pacific Learn – to access science lesson plans, teaching activities, quizzes, images, videos, and professional development courses. All included materials have been developed especially for the Solomon Islands and Pacific regional context to improve understanding and boost student engagement. Resources explain science concepts with examples relevant to daily life, incorporating indigenous knowledge and culture.
“Research shows that when teachers learn more, their students do too,” said Kara Chesal, Head of Education at Catalpa International, the tech-for-development organisation leading the programme. “That’s why the provision of on-the-job training is one of the best and most efficient ways to improve learning outcomes.” The programme uses basic, accessible technology – smartphones – for their cost effectiveness, mobility and flexibility.
The app design is suitable for users with low digital literacy, and can be accessed offline for areas with poor internet connectivity. “Ultimately we want to increase Year 10 students’ use of scientific knowledge, enabling greater social, cultural and economic participation,” said Dr Franco Rodie the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD). “This programme means we can offer quality teacher development and teaching support to our vast number of remote schools.”
New Zealand High Commissioner Jonathan Schwass said his country was delighted to have the opportunity to support the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD) in delivering the initiative. “So far the programme is reaching 10 schools across the Guadalcanal, Malaita, Makira and Western provinces, joined by schools in Cook Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu,” he said.
The Pacific e-Learning programme is delivered by MEHRD and Catalpa International in partnership with Wintec and Nanogirl Labs, and is funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.