* The collaboration between Singapore and India has helped raise capabilities and capacity among primary school educators in Bangalore in the areas of Mathematics and Science.
The five-year Mathematics and Science Curriculum Enhancement Project, a collaboration between the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and Parikrma Humanity Foundation, had a significant impact on education in Bengaluru.
Led by Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) from the education sector, the project aimed to enhance the Mathematics and Science curriculum in Bengaluru. The SIVs trained about 160 Indian educators through workshops, equipping them with new skills to create more engaging lessons for their students.
A core group of 46 Indian educators were selected as Master Trainers, who subsequently trained other teachers in their communities. Collectively, about 58,700 educators and students in Karnataka benefitted from this collaboration, ensuring improved access to quality education for children in the community.
Earlier in June, the SIF conducted a project evaluation to measure and analyse the impact of the project. Key findings included:
· Effective implementation of tools and everyday objects as teaching aids
The educators are now well-versed in using educational tools and everyday objects to better aid their students’ understanding of abstract concepts. Examples included using a tangram set to form triangles in mathematics lessons and using real flowers to introduce plant parts in science lessons.
· Greater focus on process skills
The focus of teaching in schools has shifted to hone how students arrive at their answers instead of the memorisation of facts. This is supported by lessons planned based on the 5E Model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate), and complemented by science experiments and outdoor activities. These approaches engaged students more effectively and encouraged greater inquisitiveness in them.
· Improved development of critical thinking skills
Beyond finding the right answers, students are guided to explore and analyse different solutions to each problem to develop critical thinking skills.
· Enhanced activity-based learning in groups
Where passive learning in silos was the norm previously, students are now engaged through learning in groups. Through group discussions, students practice communication, collaboration and reasoning skills, and collective decision-making, which are core 21st-century competencies.
At the project’s closing ceremony on 5 June, Mr Edgar Pang, Consul-General of the Republic of Singapore in Chennai, said: “This project between the SIF and Parikrma Humanity Foundation is a great example of how lives can be improved when people come together and join hands. I look forward to more of such collaborations between the peoples of Singapore and India across the various sectors.”
Ms Shukla Bose, Founder-CEO, Parikrma Humanity Foundation said: “We are pleased to have worked with the SIF on this initiative. The training-of-trainers approach has ensured that the benefits to our teachers and students will extend well beyond the project. The approach has certainly moved the needle in raising teaching standards here.”
Dr Prem Mario, Principal at Parikrma Junior College said: “We learnt to use objects found in everyday life as interactive props to facilitate mathematics lessons, alongside other teaching techniques like mind-mapping and storytelling. After incorporating them in our classes, our students have been able to understand new concepts better and are more engaged during lessons now.”
He added: “The Singapore volunteers have been very warm and approachable every time we met. Despite travel restrictions during the recent pandemic, we kept in touch virtually and picked up like old friends when we reconnected in person.”
SIV team leader Ms Peggy Foo, former lecturer at Singapore’s National Institute of Early Childhood Development, said: “It was a humbling experience and a privilege to share our insights with the teachers in Bangalore. Their eagerness to learn has been very inspiring. This project has also challenged me to think about how we can better bring the joy of learning to our students and encourage them to be more inquisitive.”
The Mathematics and Science Curriculum Enhancement Project aligns with the Karnataka state government’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring inclusive and quality education for all, including increasing the supply of qualified teachers by 2030 through international cooperation for teacher training.
The initiative also marks a significant milestone for the SIF as it commemorates 28 years of their work in India. Over the years, the SIF has collaborated with various partners from the government, corporate and non-government sectors, in states like Maharashtra, New Delhi, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Through their endeavours in education, healthcare, arts, environment, and livelihood, the SIF fosters connections among people and communities, facilitating collaborations that bring about positive change.