By Johannes Hangula
THE Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture recently hosted the inaugural Agriculture, Biology and Life science (ABLS) conference in Windhoek with the aim to improve teaching and learning in key science subjects.
The event was attended by 129 delegates from across the country representing including biology, agriculture and life science teachers as well as representatives from high institutions such as NUST, UNAM, NAMCOL and NCRST.
The conference aimed to interrogate the current status of teaching and learning in these subjects, share best practices and to take resolutions that will pave the way forward towards the improvement of teaching and learning outcomes in the said subjects.
In addition, institutions of tertiary education shared their experiences of teaching the first year Agriculture and Biology students and subject teachers also shared the recipe of being an achieving/competent teacher.
The conference discussed the issue/challenges in the area of Teaching and Learning which entails; correct subject terminology not used, scientific language reduced to common English language, exam drill/coaching done more due to time constraints and overloaded syllabus, little or zero practicals done in classrooms, availability/ uploaded NAMCOL videos or other available LSM on the internet for easy access to the teachers, lack of reading culture among learners, and lack of both application skills and critical thinking.
The conference further discussed the challenges faced with in the human resources area which are; lack of opportunities for agriculture teachers to be trained after Grade 12 except through Neudamm Campus, the deficiency in opportunity for BETD graduates to upgrade their qualifications in agriculture, teachers’ training programme not preparing the teachers adequately for the classroom, promotion opportunities not created for agriculture teachers.
Challenges concerning the learning support materials (LSM) and facilities were raised during the conference starting from the shortage of textbooks in Agriculture, Biology and Life Science, lack of provision of labs/mobile labs or rooms for practical at schools throughout the country
The issues related to curriculum were also raised including the gap between formal education curriculum and what is expected at tertiary, lack of correlation between the syllabus requirements and assessment done.
The conference also touched on the issue of assessments and raised a policy issue on the assessment for visually impaired learners which is challenging to DNEA as well as the learners.
In her speech read by the Deputy Permanent Secretary: Formal Education C. Kabajani, the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa expressed gratitude.
“I am very humbled by this gesture from the educators who are keen to know as to why the performances in these subjects are stagnant and not to our satisfaction. It is high time that we take stock of our contribution towards the success of this Ministry. Self- reflection, introspection and pro-activeness to make positive contribution should be the order of the day,” she said.
The conference resolutions will be drafted into a formal document that will be distributed to all the education directorates in each region.
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