In an effort to support China's new science education standards and its focus on developing western China, the Agilent Foundation in 2006 joined forces with Teachers Without Borders (TWB), the international non-profit teacher-development organization. We launched a teacher-training program in Sichuan Province, the first of its kind. The initiative has helped build the knowledge and skills of secondary science teachers in a region where many of the poorest schools are located.
The program led to the creation of a sustainable model for professional development in teaching inquiry science and the building of a nationally recognized partnership of Agilent/TWB and local education and government officials. In early 2008, TWB signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Dujiangyan Education Bureau to reach 6,000 teachers and 70 schools.
This leading-edge model in China is composed of three elements: 1) world-class content and face-to-face training in science inquiry and teacher training; 2) train-the-trainer structure, in which science inquiry leaders have an outreach obligation, resulting in a multiplier effect; and 3) online learning and professional development, a multilingual platform for content creation/sharing, coursework and virtual teacher communities.
Implementation of the plan was delayed in May 2008 by the devastating earthquake that hit Dujiangyan and other areas in Sichuan Province. However, in the face of the disaster, TWB with its strong local relationships was able to provide immediate support to our partners in the Dujiangyan Education Bureau.
The TWB project today has expanded to include other partners. While the Agilent Foundation will focus on building the science-teacher professional development model, the Hewlett Foundation will support open-educational resources, emergency education, and science-inquiry methods expansion. Cisco is creating the new IT infrastructure and supporting the online TWB Toolset. A grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation adds to our support of the inquiry science program’s outreach to rural teachers in western China.
Once the model has proven successful, with local ownership and demonstrable improvement in science education, there are plans to replicate it elsewhere in China and worldwide in countries with a TWB presence.
For more information visit www.teacherswithoutborders.org.