I work with a group of lead science and mathematics teachers that came together in 2009 and has been doing innovative teacher training and curriculum development under the auspices of the Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO, which is a semi-governmental organization linked to the Timor-Leste Ministry of Education. We call ourselves SESIM, short for the grandiose Tetun “Center for the Study of Science and Mathematics.” There are around 15 teachers/trainers in our group, 5 full-time and the rest full-time teachers but with permission to take leave when we are carrying out training.
In 2014 SESIM did a comprehensive revision of the 7th, 8th, and 9th grade mathematics and science curriculum. We marked less-relevant sections of the existing syllabus as optional and added around 20 hands-on and inquiry activities per year in both mathematics and science. These activities were developed here for use specifically by Timorese teachers. We wrote these pratika activities up in a ‘Practical Manual’ for each discipline, and we also wrote teacher guides and student workbooks to go with the curriculum.
In mid 2017, we finished up two years-worth of training offered to every junior-high school mathematics and science teacher in the country. We helped them personally carry out each pratika one by one, and then discuss how to do pratika with their students. We also visited nearly every school to mentor and monitor teachers’ progress. We were supported in this project by the Ministry of Education, UNESCO, and KOICA, Korea’s international development organization.
I also work off and on directly with the Ministry of Education on various areas of curriculum and teacher development.
Early in 2018 I blogged about our successful Uma Amérika project, funded by the U.S. embassy in Timor-Leste. More projects are forthcoming this year, including girls science clubs at our district small science centers (Knua Pratika), and our national science and mathematics camping event in November, so stay tuned and sign up for notifications by hitting the button on the right here.
Learn more about Timor-Leste’s past and U.S. support for and complicity in the violent occupation here.