In 2004,I was appointed by MoES as a graduate teacher - to teach mathematics and physics in secondary schools after teaching about five years on volunteer-basis after university graduation. On 4th of April, 2005, I joined a girls' school in the rural setting whose headteacher welcomed me nicely. She mentored me and immediately assigned a duty to coordinate the Science Mathematics and Technology school-based project, which was coded as " SMT clinic". I remember , with enthusiasm, I proposed that we make targets, which we agreed with her. One of the targets was to produce at least a student with distinction grades in science and/or mathematics subjects. For many years , none of students in this school had scored excellent grades in either physics , chemistry , mathematics or biology. That was the state of affairs.
Many of the girls , teachers and parent were locked into the negative attitude that girls can not perform well in science and mathematics. I coordinated a friendly team of science and mathematics teachers who appreciated the challenges and owned the targets. Our girls were engaged into activities that enhanced their positive attitude towards science and mathematics subjects. For example, some of the students were supported by the physics to make a solar energy phone charger, tested quality of water in the community wells and planted tree within the community. These activities did not only develop their skills but also enhanced academic achievement at the end of course. We developed " YES WE CAN" spirit among the students, and indeed it worked very well.
By 2006 , the students scored very good grades with distinctions in science and mathematics subjects and the number of failures in science and mathematics reduced drastically.
What lessons did I learn?
- I owe this achievement to the commitment of an innovative and creative teachers
- Administrators should use participative or/and democratic leadership styles for their teachers to appreciate the problem and own the strategies. Every teachers should feel to be part of the solution to the problem.
- Autocratic headteachers may not work well with their teachers - they achieve headteacher's goals , not their goals.
- A boy or a girl can excel in science and mathematics if given opportunity- it is attitude that matters.