Failures in Mathematics: A Time Bomb

In the Daily Graphic of 26th March 2009 was the report that over 135,000 students had failed in the WASSCE 2008 mathematics. Where are these students? Many have failed before them, and many are going to fail this year! Do we have to sit down, seemingly unconcerned to see the lives of these young ones, the future of Ghana, truncated?

They need a pass in mathematics to continue with their lives in whatever further courses they want to pursue. And a pass in mathematics is required but they have failed so they cannot further their education. Can we imagine the frustrations of these students? I meet a lot of them with their parents and the bitterness in them is not good for Ghana.

Canít anything be done about it? Yes, something can be done! There is a solution, and it is being offered by Ghana Mathematics Society. We have identified the teaching of mathematics as part of the problem. We need massive professional development in content and pedagogy for teachers. Teachers must learn how to create a friendly atmosphere in the mathematics classroom, introduce practical mathematics, and show the relevance of all topics in mathematics to real life situations. We need to revisit the pre-tertiary mathematics curriculum to remove redundancies and provide coherence across the educational levels. We need teachers trained in mathematics (instead of the so-called general teachers) to teach mathematics at the basic levels, where the fear for mathematics and the dislike for the subject begin. We need to promote fun games in mathematics; may be Miss Mathematics and Mr. Mathematics contests to be sponsored by corporate Ghana. It should be mandatory for all pre-tertiary schools to form mathematics clubs to engage in some outdoor mathematics activities.

Mathematics is not a monster! It is friendly, lovable, doable and applicable to all human activities. Evidence of these abounds at the Meagasa Mathematics Academy at Lashibi. Mathematics is important and we need a commonplace use of its principles and methods to ensure the efficiency of all our developmental efforts.

Letís help these students to enjoy mathematics and pass it so that they donít increase the numbers in the streets. Idle hands and minds in the streets can become a time bomb, which when it explodes will be very devastating. They say a stitch in time saves nine!. 

-Prof. S.E. Anku
President, Ghana Mathematics Society

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