BDU-NORHED Project organizes an International Conference
A conference organized by College of behavioral Sciences and NORHED was held for two days under the title “Making Science and Mathematics Teaching and Learning Impactful “ from October 23-24,2019.
In the opening stage of the conference, Project coordinator Dr Dawit Asrat briefly explained the overall achievements of the project. He said through the project which focuses on improving the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics, capacity building trainings to the concerned teachers and educators have been provided. Also, the project has created education opportunities both at Masters and PhD levels for staff and students in Bahir Dar and Juba Universities. Speaking of the conference, Dr Dawit remarked that the papers for the conference were selected through rigorous revision on the basis of their contribution towards making Science and mathematics education meaningful and impactful.
Introducing the morning plenary session, the coordinator invited Dr Tadesse Melese, Dean College of Behavioral Sciences to the stage. Through the project, the dean said, nearly half a hundred students’ got scholarships to study their graduate studies. The dean also highlighted the importance of the project in facilitating PhD scholarships and SPSS training opportunities that benefited the staff and students alike from both Universities. He finally expressed his appreciation to the team of experts who won the project. He also thanked NORHED and showed the college’s commitment to realizing the objective of the project.
President of BDU, Dr Firew Tegegne on his part reminded the audience as to the performance of students at different levels on Mathematics and Science at national level. He said it is most alarming. Colloquiums like the present ones are believed to be source of ideas that potentially impact policy making on science and mathematics education in order to curb the deteriorating performance of students in every level. The president stressed unless we see a growing positive change on the Science and Mathematics education, the job of teachers and researchers in higher education like BDU is far from over.
One of the presenters of the plenary session, a famous philosopher who is tipped to be the father of the philosophy of Mathematics education was Professor Paul Ernest from UK. Professor Ernest presented a paper on “Mistakes in Mathematics and Education”. In his presentation, the professor pointed out that teaching must not demonize errors rather errors shall be source of information for impactful teaching. Blaming learners for the errors committed will make them to be fearful of making mistakes which in turn makes students to be in a state of avoidance of risks. This contributes to failure in Math tasks impacting one’s Math ability and confidence which later grows to Math anxiety and a negative attitude to the subject. This, Professor Ernest continued, will create a negative vicious cycle which makes Math learning so difficult. The professor argued it is possible to turn the failure into success by lessening the feeling of failure. One of the mechanisms is to encourage learners to engage in self and/or peer (dialogical interaction) to dealing with errors.
Dr Temechegn Engida, another plenary speaker who has taught and supervised researchers for many years, on his part made a speech on “Science Education issues and Trends”. In his philosophical address, Dr Temechegn gave a historical account of philosophy of Science. He gave examples of countries that change their philosophical stance on science education which brings about success in Math and Science education. He believes that the problem of science education that is prevalent in Ethiopian education system is dealt only from philosophical stand point.
The other presenter who was once a student at Peda, Bdu, in the diploma program, Dr Solomon, is now a PhD holder and an associate professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Dr Solomon whose presentation was on “Discussion points on Mathematics education in Ethiopia” emphasized the need for educational reform on Science and Mathematics education in the country. The presenter encourages Ethiopian education system to emerge out of the different values the country has. This is termed Ethnomathematics. In his presentation, he mentioned how different concepts would have been taught using traditional games. He mentioned about ‘Gebeta’- an Ethiopian traditional game that can be used to teach the concept of saving. It has also been said that this game can also be used to promote critical thinking as well. Dr Solomon also mentioned about some pictures that he found in some churches. He said the pictures can teach the concept of representation and binary digitization. In his speech, he urges decision makers to base their philosophical orientation from within the country than from abroad to bring sensible changes in Science and Mathematics education.
In the conference a lot has been garnered from different scholars both in and out of the country from a total of 23 papers presented and from the two key note speeches by two renowned researchers.
Participants of the colloquium include BDU teachers and students, invited education personnel, experts, officials and researchers.