Mathematics and science education should see notable improvements as a result of new teacher training initiatives being rolled out in the Kingdom, says Pearson Country Manager for Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Asiri.
Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, is working closely with the Tatweer Company for Educational Services (T4edu) to roll out a ‘train-the-trainer’ programme. The new programme will see Master trainers provide professional development to mathematics and science teachers across the country and help positively change teachers’ beliefs about teaching and learning.
T4edu is the company tasked with rolling out the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Public Education Project, a large scale programme of reform that will shape the future of education across the Kingdom. Pearson believes that improving the knowledge and skills of teachers through the new train-the-trainer initiative will be key to raising math and science standards in Saudi Arabia’s schools, and helping fulfil some of the key goals of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Public Education Project.
A recent global report from Pearson and the Economist Intelligence Unit called The Learning Curve (www.thelearningcurve.pearson.com) stressed the importance of great teachers in providing great learning. Enhancing the learning outcomes of mathematics and science students in Saudi Arabia will therefore be closely linked to the country’s teachers having strong content and pedagogical knowledge in these fields.
The first cohort of potential Master Trainers began their training programme in Riyadh in early May. The 80 participants are the first of 500 expected to undertake the programme over the next two years. The Master Trainers will be responsible for training over 100,000 of the Kingdom’s primary and secondary mathematics and science teachers – building capacity and capability amongst Saudi Arabia’s mathematics and science teaching community.
The programme is a flagship component of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Public Education Project and of great importance to the Saudi Government who is seeking to improve the level of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the Kingdom. Research suggests that supporting teaching and learning in these subjects is important for long-term economic growth and prosperity. A 2013 Report from the Brookings Institute found that workers in the STEM field play a direct role in driving economic competiveness and in the invention, creation and maintenance of technologies that drive economic growth. The Report also noted that 20 percent of jobs in the United States are in the STEM field, and that the share of jobs requiring STEM knowledge has more than doubled since the Industrial Revolution.
Dr Mohammed AlZaghibi, General Director of the STEM Educational Initiative from T4EDU, says:
“We are delighted to be working with Pearson to deliver a programme that will help improve the overall standard of mathematics and science teaching – and learning – in our country. Our company has been tasked with the important goal of driving the development of Saudi Arabia’s public education system and thereby contributing to the growth of a knowledge economy that is competitive in the global marketplace. Having a population that has strong skills in the mathematics and science disciplines will be critical to achieving this goal. Maths and science knowledge is essential to a wide-range of professions that drive innovation and productivity – by building strong capability in these areas we can also help build the long-term future of our country”.
Mr Asiri believes that raising mathematics and science results in Saudi Arabia will not only have a positive effect on the economy, but also open up excellent career opportunities to individuals. He says:
“Our education system must keep pace with the requirements of our rapidly growing economy – As the Saudi economy develops there is increasing demand for employees who have excellent knowledge and skills in the areas of mathematics and science. Pearson is thrilled to be working with T4EDU to help improve the learning outcomes of students in these fields so that they are equipped to take full advantage of the significant opportunities available in the job market – both now and in the years ahead.”
By reaching such a large number of educators, it is hoped the programme will have a positive effect on Saudi Arabia’s ranking for math and science in international education tables such as TIMMS and PISA. Mr Asiri says that raising the country’s performance in these subjects is a priority for Pearson, a company that has made a public pledge to measure the effectiveness of its programmes.
“In 2013, Pearson committed to guaranteeing the efficacy of its entire offering – we want to visibly improve peoples’ lives through learning. The Math and Science Teacher Development Programme has the potential to achieve this goal. By operating on such a vast scale, the programme will have an impact on hundreds of thousands of Saudi school children in all parts of the country. Giving these learners better access to first-rate math and science teaching will open up new opportunities for them in the job market, and provide them with the STEM skills and knowledge necessary to drive innovation and productivity in the country’s economy”.