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Teacher Resource Centres give every Maldivian child a chance for quality education

© UNICEF Maldives/2007/Taylor
All of the Maldives’ 20 atolls are now being connected through broadband Internet, enabling students and teachers across the nation to access information and share experiences online.

By Kun Li

RAA MEEDHOO, Maldives, December 2007 – Since the creation of the Teacher Resource Centre (TRC) on his island, Areesh Rasheed, 9, has found classes much more interesting than ever before.

As a result of the ‘building back better’ tsunami recovery effort, child-friendly active learning – the very approach that is supported by the TRCs – has been scaled up to all registered pre-schools and 107 primary schools across the country.

For Areesh and his classmates, using an interactive electronic ‘smart board’ is the best part. In one class, students are invited by the teacher to come up to the board and solve a multiplication problem. When it is Areesh’s turn, he places his hand over a number and glides it across the board until it reaches the equal sign. He then touches a red button to check his answer.

If the answer is correct, a clown will jump out on the screen, cheering for the children. If the answer is incorrect, a bear will appear, shrug and say, “Oh boy, please try again!”

© UNICEF Maldives/2007/Taylor
Students from an island community use a ‘smart board’ for their classes at 1 of 20 Teacher Resource Centres set up throughout the Maldives.

Interactive and participatory learning
The students can also interact with other children on different islands through the TRC’s webcam. Using the smart board as a projection screen, the children can see each other and discuss interesting topics about their schools, families and communities.

To date, 20 TRCs have been set up throughout the Maldives. They consist of a training room and a computer lab, and are strategically placed in a key school in every atoll. The special features of TRCs – such as the smart boards and broadband Internet – have made learning and teaching more interactive and participatory than ever for both teachers and students.

That is important in a nation where the population is dispersed across 200 islands, and where nearly 80 per cent of teacher-training costs are transport-related. With the help of telecommunications and information technology, TRCs greatly alleviate the massive logistical problems, decentralizing services and resources to reach teachers and students in the most remote communities.

© UNICEF Maldives/2007/Taylor
A boy solving a math problem on the ‘smart board’ at the TRC training lab in Meedhoo, Raa Atoll.

More qualified teachers
“One of the challenges we faced was to provide in-service training on child-friendly active learning and teaching methodology to teachers,” says UNICEF Education Specialist Ameena Mohamed Didi. “Getting more teachers trained in the new methods is key to sustain the achievements made during the past three years.

“So the strategy that the Ministry of Education and UNICEF came up with was to establish Teacher Resource Centres,” adds Ms. Didi.

“With the development of the TRC, all the other 19 atolls are now connected to us, explains Ismail Naseer, TRC Coordinator on Nilandhoo island, Faafu Atoll. “There is a lot of room now for sharing good practices amongst teachers. And if we look at the future, through these developed TRCs, our teachers will be trained – especially in the child-friendly methodology – and as a result we will have more qualified teachers for our children.”




December 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on how UNICEF is improving children’s education after the tsunami in the Maldives.
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