By Svetlana Neftenova
The Macedonian Bureau for the Development of Education is focusing on greater usage of information and computer technology (ICT) in schools in order to improve the teaching process across all subjects in the country. This poses a requirement on the part of the teachers to use as much digital content as possible, thus making lessons more interesting and interactive for the students, which in turn will result in better-quality teaching. To achieve its goal, the bureau has partnered with us at the British Council in Macedonia to give support in one particular segment – support for English language teachers in their further professional development in the area of ICT and improvement of their teaching process by using digital content.
In order to increase the efficiency of the education process, the government of the Republic of Macedonia put forward the Computer for Every Child project. This is part of the national programme for development of education (2005–15). The project envisaged an increase in the level of ICT skills by teachers and students. In addition, the aim was to allow teachers and students easier access to digital content in the classroom for educational purposes. As part of the project, the Ministry of Information, Technology and Public Administration obtained computers for every child in primary and secondary schools across the country.
Through the bureau, the ministry has implemented the Intel Digital Content project from the first to the ninth grade. Minister Ivo Ivanovski stated that the digital content donated by Intel is used in highly developed countries. The project allows teachers to use video, audio and additional digital content to teach mathematics, physics, biology and chemistry. Following the above example, in the past year the Macedonian Bureau for Development of Education has started working on the development of digital content for languages and the humanities.
To assist English language teachers in this and raise students’ level of knowledge of English, the bureau is partnering with the British Council Macedonia.
We at the British Council are offering support by mapping the digital content from the British Council’s Learn English Kids website to the national curriculum, from grades 1 to 5. A team of highly experienced primary school teachers, trainers and English language advisers who work with the British Council are currently mapping the curriculum and developing a training programme for teachers of English from the state sector. The product of this mapping is a training manual that primary school teachers will be able to use in the classroom and thus integrate digital content in the teaching process.
The manual is expected to be created and printed by the end of March. During the following stage, to be carried out in April, approximately 500 teachers of English working in primary schools and teaching from grades 1 to 5 will receive hands-on training on how to use the manual. They will also be given guidance on how to integrate the digital content into their teaching and implement ICT in the classroom.
Following evaluation of the project results, the British Council will work on phase two: mapping the national curriculum from grades 6 to 9 from the Learn English Kids and Learn English Teens websites. The British Council’s curriculum mapping project is directly in line with governmental priorities for modernisation of the education process in Macedonia. n
Svetlana Neftenova is projects coordinator for the British Council Macedonia