Jersey nonprofit brings effective math, science programs to Gambia

A high-tech teaching regimen developed by the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is helping students in Gambia perform better on standardized tests.

Since 2012, CTL has been working with the Gambia Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE)  to see if a program that successfully improved student performance in math and science in New Jersey would have the same impact on students in West Africa. 

The program trained 24 teachers in new teaching methods that use interactive white boards and polling devices for students to have access to an open source catalog of curriculum materials managed by CTL.

So far, the program has improved the percentage of students getting top math and science scores by 300 percent and 600 percent, respectively.

According to MoBSE officials, the programs have not only had a positive influence on student achievement, but student interest as well.

"The program has proven to be very effective in improving students' interest in mathematics and science," MoBSE Permanent Secretary Baboucarr Bouy said. "This positive outcome could be explained by the socio-constructivist approach to pedagogy employed in the program. This approach brings to bear a perfect balance of the instrumental and experiential aspects of teaching and learning that keep the learners active, engaged and aware of their progress as it avails them the opportunity to assess themselves as individuals or as a group. It also provides them with the ego and stamina to work either independently or as a group for a longer period of time without getting bored."

MoBSE and CTL plan to continue their work by expanding the program to serve 7th- to- 12th-grade students and develop a similarly designed program for English language arts.

"We could not be more pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education in the Gambia," CTL Executive Director Dr. Robert Goodman said. "It is inspiring to see how teachers across the country are making the science and mathematics pedagogy their own -- and engaging their students to reach new levels of understanding and achievement. We hope that this new approach will prove helpful for many more countries throughout Africa and the world."

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The New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning

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