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Mico to tackle math, science challenges at regional conference

Published:Thursday | March 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Packer

The Mico University College is to bring together some of the most highly respected practitioners and researchers from around the world to participate in a conference to critically examine and seek solutions to the barriers facing the effective teaching and learning of science and mathematics in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The two-day event will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston starting March 19. It will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

In a release, The Mico said the conference was being called amid alarming statistics in schools in the region - and in particular Jamaica - which reveal that more than 60 per cent of students fail to receive grades 1 to III in mathematics while 85 per cent of 11th-grade cohorts shy away from the three main science subjects.

Serious trouble ahead

According to Dr Albert Benjamin, chair of the conference planning committee and head of the Natural Sciences Department at The Mico, Jamaica will be in serious trouble with its future development if the cycle of underperformance and a fear of these vital subjects persists.

"Almost every aspect of living is affected by advancements in science and technology. As a nation, we must act collectively to unravel the hindrances which exist to the way we approach the teaching and learning of science and mathematics," Benjamin said. "Students will gravitate more to these subjects when the teachers themselves are able to deliver lessons on the subjects in a way that students will enjoy and understand that they need them to progress as productive citizens who can reason and function independently."

Through this conference, The Mico aims to examine the progress of science and mathematics education in the region; provide a forum for sharing best practices in the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in early-childhood, primary, secondary, and tertiary education; propose goals for science and mathematics teaching relevant to regional human development; as well as to establish a permanent forum for sustainable regional collaboration in mathematics and science teaching and learning to foster innovation.

Among the presenters who will share their expertise are Dr Pasi Sahlberg, director general of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation in Helsinki, Finland; and Sudhakar Argarkar, a professor at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education in India.

Also attending will be St Lucian Dr Didacus Jules, the registrar and chief executive officer of the Caribbean Examinations Council.

Other presenters:

Professor Bernie Dodge from the University of San Diego and the leading expert on the use of smartphones for the teaching of math and science

Dr Christopher Emdin from Columbia University

Dr Alexander Porovsky from Russia

Dr Rose Pringle, Florida State University.

The Mico contingent will be led by

Professor Claude Packer, president of The Mico University College and professor of mathematics education

Professor Arnoldo Ventura, adjunct professor of science and technology.

The conference's target group includes policymakers, principals, teachers and educators.

For further information on how to register for the conference, contact: Paula Parkes at 443-1584 or 929-5360 ext 2762. Website: http://regionalscienceconference.themicofoundation.org/