The World Bank 2018 World Development Report states that, “Worldwide, hundreds of millions of children reach young adulthood without even the most basic life skills. Even if they attend school, many leave without the skills for calculating the correct change from a transaction, reading a doctor’s instructions, or interpreting a campaign promise—let alone building a fulfilling career.”
Education systems require an overhaul while developing more useful learning measures to address critical thinking deficits and basic life skills. Improving these systems requires tackling from the basic school level, especially in the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and its application. Basic school and high school students stand a better chance of facing academic life rigour at the University level if they are equipped with the requisite skills during their formative years. To achieve this, the capacity of teachers at the basic level must be built or improved.
This has necessitated the partnership between the Education Collaborative at Ashesi and Practical Education Network (PEN). The partnership is a bid to transfer PEN’s hands-on science teacher training modules online to enhance this course’s reach and accessibility, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic still lurking.
Studies have shown that hands-on learning or experiential learning helps students better understand their learning materials and the potential gaps between theory and practice. Rote learning on the other hand has dire consequences for students.
On the need for building high school teachers’ capacities in hands- on learning, Rose A. Dodd, Director for the Education Collaborative at Ashesi says, “The world of work is rapidly changing. It has become necessary to prepare students and the youth for the future world of work by prioritizing and putting learning at the forefront. Experiential learning unlike rote learning allows students to discover things for themselves and to acquire the much-needed critical thinking skills required to navigate the future world of work- The Collaborative is keen on championing the goal of achieving quality education outcomes in Africa and this partnership takes us a step closer to achieving that.”
The idea behind hands-on science is embodied in Aristotle’s quote, “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.
With the Education Collaborative’s partnership with PEN, ten teachers will be equipped to teach practical science to their students in new engaging ways. They will also be trained to train at least one more teacher until it spirals, and cumulatively, about 100 teachers are trained.
The course was launched on the Education Collaborative’s learning Management System on April 06, 2021. “Practical Education Network in partnership with the Education Collaborative, seeks to develop more useful learning measures for high school teachers teaching STEM in Ghana and, we are excited about the opportunity to work together with the Collaborative on this” shared Heather Beem, founder, and CEO of PEN.