31 July 2023

The Singapore International Foundation Launches its First Project in East Malaysia

The Mathematics teacher training project in Sarawak aims to benefit more than 80,000 students by 2027.

SIV Ms Juliana Donna Loh (in orange) demonstrating the use of Base Ten Blocks, an educational tool that helps students to visualize numbers, at the first Maths PLUS workshop.
Project launch

The Maths PLUS project was launched by The Honourable Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn, Sarawak Minister for Education, Innovation and Talent Development (sixth from left) and Mr Jaryll Chan, SIF Division Director (Programmes), by lighting up a Rubik’s Cube.

The Mathematics Pedagogical Learning, Understanding and Support (Maths PLUS) project was launched by the SIF, in partnership with Sarawak’s Ministry of Education, Innovation and Talent Development (MEITD), in Kuching, Sarawak on 17 July 2023. It is supported by the Sarawak State Education Department (JPNS) and the Institute of Teacher Education (IPGK) Batu Lintang Campus, and co-sponsored by Ngee Ann Development Pte Ltd.

The launch was marked by the lighting up of a Rubik’s Cube - an iconic symbol for Mathematics. Though it has 43 quintillion possible permutations, anyone can become an expert in solving the Rubik’s Cube by understanding the mathematical principles that govern it. This encapsulates the ethos of the Maths PLUS project.

The four-year initiative is designed to improve teaching standards of Mathematics in Sarawak. The project is led by a team of Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) comprising experienced teacher trainers. Through a series of workshops, the Sarawakian teachers will gain content knowledge and skills to help them design and conduct more engaging Mathematics lessons.

About 100 teachers from Kuching, Samarahan, and Serian will be trained. Among them, 20 will be selected as Master Trainers who will go on to train peers in their own communities. This ensures that the project’s impact is sustainable and can continue to benefit teachers and students after its conclusion.

SIV Ms Juliana Donna Loh (in orange) demonstrating the use of Base Ten Blocks, an educational tool that helps students to visualize numbers

SIV Ms Juliana Donna Loh (in orange) demonstrating the use of Base Ten Blocks, an educational tool that helps students to visualise numbers, at the first Maths PLUS workshop.

Shortly after the launch ceremony, the SIVs and Sarawakian teachers convened for Maths PLUS’ first workshop at IPGK Batu Lintang. The SIVs introduced best practices in teaching Whole Numbers with new approaches.

Ms Fiona Charli, who teaches Mathematics at Balai Ringin National School in Serian, said: “Our SIV trainer Dr Koay Phong Lee shared interesting ways for us to teach Whole Numbers to our students. One of them is through children’s literature, which surprisingly introduces the concepts of subtraction and addition.”

She added that the insights shared by the Singaporean educators gave a new dimension to teaching Mathematics. She said: “I learnt that by applying innovation in education, it can help students, teachers, and all school organisations. Innovative approaches can transform Mathematics into a very interesting subject and help to increase mathematical achievements.”

Similarly, Mr Noormat Nen, Assistant Director, Science and Mathematics Unit, JPNS, saw great potential for Sarawakian teachers to benefit from Maths PLUS. He said: “In my opinion, Maths PLUS is a programme that provides many special benefits to the selected 100 primary school Mathematics teachers in Sarawak. They have been exposed to interesting perspectives and different techniques.”

He also expressed his appreciation to the team of SIVs. He said: “From what I witnessed today, the Singaporean teachers were highly engrossed and fully committed to the workshop. On top of that, they are very friendly to our Sarawakian teachers. Hence, I am very grateful for what the Singaporean community is contributing. I hope that this programme will continue to run smoothly and achieve great results.”

In the same vein, Mr Donald Henry Nohed, Principal Assistant Secretary, Education Division, MEITD hoped that the project will grow its reach in the state. He said: “We have already received very positive feedback from our teachers on the first workshop and we certainly hope that Maths PLUS can be expanded to other parts of Sarawak. Thank you, SIF, for your professionalism and efficiency in organising Maths PLUS thus far.”