Contribution to the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education
NISMED, then called Science Teaching Center (STC), was the first curriculum research and development institution to develop and publish textbooks appropriate for Filipino students and real-life contexts. Its first generation textbooks with accompanying teacher’s guides (1964 to 1973) were adaptations of American and British-developed materials in keeping with research studies that learning is facilitated if objects of study are familiar, relevant, and occur in the immediate environment. It also developed sourcebooks focused on Philippine resources (e.g., Plants of the Philippines).
Due to its leadership in curriculum development and research, STC was renamed the Science Education Center (SEC) in 1967 and made a permanent unit of the University of the Philippines in 1969 by the Board of Regents with an additional budget from the Science Fund under Republic Act 5506. The Act also decreed that “appropriate texts and materials produced and published by the Center” be prescribed as textbooks in public schools. In the mid-70s, it was designated as the Curriculum Development Center for Science and Mathematics under the World Bank-funded National Textbook Project to develop elementary and secondary textbooks and teachers’ guides in science and mathematics. These so-called second generation textbooks came out in the ’80s. The funding included a grant of a building to house SEC staff.
SEC also served as the lead agency in a network of Regional Science Teaching Centers supported by UNICEF and the National Science Development Board (now the DOST-SEI) under the Science Education Development Project which built up faculty and facilities of institutions within the network. The number of institutions in this network grew through the years and many have recently become centers of excellence in their part of the country. NISMED continues to receive requests for technical and human resource support from these institutions.
Parallel to the development of research-based curriculum materials, NISMED conducts professional development programs to orient science and mathematics teachers on the use of the materials and to impart a learner-centered, hands-on philosophy through strategies that develop higher-order thinking skills on the part of students as they construct the science and mathematical concepts themselves.
NISMED continues its important functions as a curriculum research and development and extension unit of the University, disseminating its publications
through its teacher training programs at the national, regional, division, district, and school levels as well as in its public lecture series.
Due to its capabilities in research, curriculum development, and teacher training, NISMED was selected in the late 80’s by the Japanese and Philippine Governments to be the Project Manager of the National Learning Resource Center for Teacher Training in Science and Mathematics, a package-type grant from Japan which included construction of the Science Teacher Training Center building and a hostel, complete with equipment and furniture. The NISMED complex soon after became the venue for the Science and Mathematics Education Manpower Development Project (SMEMDP) through which NISMED staff underwent training under Japanese experts and in turn conducted national training programs for participants from all the regions of the country. Through this project (1994 to 1999) another bountiful crop of sourcebooks, posters, improvised equipment, and nonprint materials were produced by NISMED. The practical work approach to teaching science and mathematics, exemplified by hands-on, minds-on and hearts-on activities for the learner, was widely promoted and disseminated by NISMED through this project.
To this day, NISMED leads in introducing unique and innovative programs for the betterment of science and mathematics education in the country. This is accomplished through its research-based print and nonprint materials and its professional development programs. The latter have been conducted on-site to reach the teachers in their own communities and through mentoring and collaborative schemes that build mastery of concepts and skills, as well as confidence and empowerment.