PAMO stands for Pan African Mathematics Olympiad. It is
a commission of the African Mathematical Union (AMU)
that is organized yearly in various African countries
with the following goals:
• To popularize mathematics among the African youth
• To stimulate the love for mathematics
• To inculcate the liking of excellency
• To detect mathematical talent among the African youth
Last year’s PAMO was hosted by Senegal, while this
year’s, the 17th PAMO, was hosted by Abuja, Nigeria from
5th to 15th April 2007. Next year, it will be hosted by
Egypt in August.
Participating in PAMO
Normally, countries are invited to participate in PAMO
by the President of PAMO/AMU who for sometime now has
been Professor Nouzha El Yacoubi from Morocco. Countries
are given deadlines to accept the invitation and submit
a team of four high school students below the age of 20
on the day of the examination, a team leader and a
deputy, both of whom must be teaching mathematics. Also,
each country is allowed six problems to be sent to the
President of PAMO and the chairman of the Local
Organizing Committee (LOC). Teams from participating
countries are fully sponsored by their governments, for
example airfare and per diem expenses. The hosting
country pays for accommodation, feeding, and
transportation of the teams within the country.
There is a Problems Committee made up of experts in
organizing Olympiads and whose chairman moderates all
activities. There is also a Jury made up of all country
team leaders. On arrival in the host country, all team
leaders are separated from their students until after
the Olympiad. Access to all communication gadgets like
mobile phones and internet services are not allowed. In
fact, mobile phones are seized (even from team leaders)
and handed over only after the competition.
The Jury and the Problems Committee members spend
considerable time going through all the problems sent by
the participating countries with the view of reducing
them to twelve. Solutions to all the problems and their
marking schemes are discussed and agreed on. It is then
the duty of the Problems Committee members to reduce the
twelve questions to six, which are not known to the Jury
until after the competition has started. Four and half
hours are given for solving three problems at a sitting.
There are two sittings on different days. Marking of
scripts of teams are by their team leaders and begins
immediately after the problem solving session. The marks
given must be defended by the team leader before the
Problems Committee members.
Each problem is scored over seven. Total marks are found
for each student and for each country. The top three
students are awarded gold, the next five are awarded
silver and the next eight are awarded bronze. For
countries, the top gets gold, the next silver, and the
third gets bronze.
Countries that participated in the 17th Pan African
Mathematics Olympiad include Benin, Burkina Faso,
Cameroon, and Ghana. The rest were Mali, Nigeria, South
Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.
Ghana participated for the first time this year. MathNED
took two students, one male from Labone Secondary
School, Ransford Damptey, and a female from Accra Girls
Secondary School, Florence Omari. Parents of the
students had to pay for all costs involved in their
wards’ participation. Ghana did not win any medals as a
country and as individual students. There was no way
total marks of two first-timer students could beat total
marks of four students from other countries. However,
Ghana was highly commended for taking the initiative to
participate and for parents bearing the costs involved.
As such, it was proposed that a training session for
students in ECOWAS countries should be organized in
Ghana before the next PAMO in Egypt.
It was an eye opener for the students who participated.
The international exposure was very valuable as they met
students from other countries and compared notes on
several fronts. For example, while other countries took
PAMO seriously and camped their students for several
months, few people in Ghana knew of PAMO. Nigeria camped
her students for six months and they won the individual
gold. South Africa camped their students for almost a
year and they won the country gold. The standard of the
problems are way above high school standards. So, how
serious are we with our mathematics in Ghana? I hope we
shall prepare more seriously towards the 18th Pan
African Mathematics Olympiad to be held in Egypt next
One interesting occurrence was the frequent use of
French in deliberations as most of the officials spoke
French. I remember having to defend the marks of the
students from Ghana using my O-level French while the
official was also apparently using his O-level English.
I was wondering how the students got along! The
experience brings to the fore the need to popularize the
study of French in Ghana.
To conclude, we need a serious and elaborate training
program for our students before the next Olympiad. We
shall need the sponsorship from corporate Ghana and any
individuals who are interested MathNED’s efforts in
revamping mathematics education in Ghana and providing
international exposure to our students.
contact me through firstname.lastname@example.org for your support.
You may transfer money into account #00001/02/600088/01
with the Makola Branch of the International Commercial
Bank (SWIFT: INCEGHAC) or send cheques to MathNED,
through Box NG 456, Nungua, Ghana.