‘Programme right approach but can be improved’

National 2 minutes, 17 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Numeracy Programme in Brunei has been a step in right direction but more can be done to improve its effectiveness, said a lead educational psychologist from Singapore’s Ministry of Education.

Dr Fiona Cheam said during an interview on the sidelines of the National Seminar and Workshop on Numeracy 2016 held at Rimba II Primary School that Brunei’s decision to design the programme to be “child centre” based on the specific needs of the students was the right approach and the tools used to identify and assess these students were good.

“I think there are many things that are right about it. First of all, there’s a very systematic identification of children who need support,” said Dr Cheam.

“They have diagnostics tests that help teachers figure out what the child already knows and therefore what to teach next. There are (also) objective tests and clear criteria of who will be receiving the support and that is very important because it’s about efficient resource allocation,” she added.

The area that Dr Cheam said needed improvement is the operational aspect. One example that she gave was the need to adjust the Numeracy Literacy Package to reflect the new syllables as well as to identify and improve the teachers’ capabilities in using the package provided.

“Everything that they have is important but what really matters is what happens in the classroom,” said Dr Cheam.

During the event Dr Cheam gave a keynote address titled “Using Evidence-Based Approaches to Improve Mathematics Achievement”.

One of the topics, she discussed during her address was the importance of teaching mathematics conceptually rather than procedurally.

“For example, the idea behind division is sharing into equal parts. So if you teach division as a concept such as sharing $420 among three people. Children will understand (the purpose) and then the procedure makes sense. Otherwise, they would have to learn the steps by heart and it’s very hard to learn it by heart because it doesn’t make sense to them,” said Dr Cheam during the interview.

The Numeracy Resource Package which was adopted in 2015 serves as a complete reference material for Special Education Needs Assistance (SENA) teachers. It contains a worksheet for evaluation and continuous training including 30 basic mathematical skills.

The National Seminar and Workshop on Numeracy 2016 was organised by the Special Education Unit (SEU), Ministry of Education (MoE) with the aim to increase the knowledge and awareness of students who are struggling to master basic numeracy skills.

The event themed “strengthen the teaching and learning of basic numeracy” was attended by more than 400 participants including school leaders, officers from various departments within MoE, Special Education Needs Assistance (SENA) teachers and Learning Support Teachers (LST) attended the event.

The Brunei Times