Report on Prof. Jin Akiyama's Visit to Ghana

MathNED, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education Science and Sports (MESS) and Ghana Education Service (GES), invited Prof. Jin Akiyama from Tokai University, Japan, to deliver a series of lectures on Connecting Mathematics To Real Life at the University of Ghana, Legon, the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), as part of Ghana’s 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations.

The lectures were also to rekindle interest in mathematics. Professor Jin Akiyama is a very popular mathematician, mathematics educator, and entertainer on radio and television, using mathematics. He has visited many countries in Asia and Europe giving lectures on mathematics. He hosts a regular program on the National Television of Japan. He has to his credit several journal publications, books, and lectures on DVDs for radio and TV broadcast. He is the Director, the Research Institute of Educational Development, Tokai University, Tokyo, Japan.

In Accra
Prof. Jin Akiyama arrived on Tuesday, 27th March 2007 and was met at the Kotoka International Airport by MathNED team led by Prof. S. E. Anku. He paid a courtesy call on the Director General of the Ghana Education Service, Mr. Samuel Bannerman-Mensah on the 28th of March 2007. The Director General commended him highly for taking time off his very heavy schedule in Japan to come and spend ten days in Ghana. Discussions focused on future collaborations between him and his University on one hand and MathNED, GES and MESS on the other hand. He was interviewed on 30th March 2007 on Metro TV morning show program to sensitize the general public to his lectures. He had his first lecture on that same day at University of Ghana, Legon from 2:20pm-4:20pm at the Great Hall. There were about 700 participants and they were all enthused about the exhibits he showcased. There were students from tertiary and second cycle institutions at the lecture.

In Cape Coast
On the 1st of April, the team left for Cape Coast where he delivered his second lecture at the Centre for National Culture, University of Cape Coast on Monday, 2nd April 2007 from 2:30pm-4:30pm. He and Prof. Anku were interviewed in the morning on Radio Valco, an FM station in Cape Coast. About 600 students including the general public participated. He had a lot of impart on both the students and the lecturers who participated.

In Kumasi
On the 3rd of April, the team left for Kumasi. The Department of Mathematics at KNUST had declared the whole day of 4th April 2007 as Mathematics Day to enable many more to participate in the lecture and activities organized by the Department. The Vice-Chancellor of the University was the Guest Speaker during the opening ceremony which was attended by a large crowd, estimated to be about 1500. Also present were the Pro-vice Chancellor, the dean of Science, and several other lecturers from various departments of the university. There were students from second cycle institutions in Kumasi. Prof.
Akiyama’s lecture was at the Great Hall of the University from 2:30pm-4:30pm. A student’s mathematics association, Mathematical Community of Ghana (MACOG), whose membership is open to all students who study mathematics, was inaugurated by Prof. Jin Akiyama. The officers of MACOG were introduced to the general public. The association was formed at the instance of Prof. Anku to help in grass root mobilization of students into clubs in their various schools. A major aim of MACOG is to rekindle interest in mathematics among the youth by organizing mathematics camps and related activities to showcase the connections between the mathematics concepts that students study and real life activities.

The visit of Prof. Akiyama posed a lot of challenges to MathNED as the initiators of his visit. Some of the requirements for his stay and delivery of the lectures were communicated to the Minister of Education, the Director General of GES, and Ghana @ 50 Secretariat for sponsorship well in advance. The bureaucratic machinery made it so frustrating that one wonders if it worthwhile to take an initiative to do good. For example, I had requested for a vehicle that would make the movement of the team relatively smooth and the indication was that I would get one. However, in the afternoon of his arrival day, I had a call from GES that they could not offer me any help.
It was devastating! I had to frantically call the Minister of Education to personally intervene. Thanks he intervened and a vehicle was sent the following day, after I had to make personal emergency arrangements to pick Prof. Akiyama and his models from the airport to his hotel. Except for my interest in contributing to revamping mathematics education in Ghana, I would have given up. I had to squeeze my personal resources together to keep the program alive. Thanks UCC and KNUST for absorbing our accommodation and feeding costs.

I must mention with gratitude, the singular effort of Dr. Rex Osei of MESS, who managed to squeeze twenty million cedis from Ghana@50 Secretariat to supplement our expenditures, although our request to the Secretariat had been earlier on rejected. Although the money came by piecemeal installments, it was great help. I remember Dr. Osei even offered to come with me to the airport with his personal car to help convey Prof. Akiyama to his hotel when he heard no vehicle had been assigned to me.

I hope people with expertise and with genuine interests to help provide some solution to Ghana’s problems can be identified and supported. Prof. Akiyama was disappointed that I had to go through all that I went through and it was like his coming was not appreciated when he had to sacrifice the $10,000 a day he would have been making in Japan to come and deliver free talks in our universities, not to mention paying for his own air fare.

On the other side, he appreciated the problems and hoped that he could collaborate with us to revamp mathematics education in Ghana. There are many useful things we can benefit from him and I hope when I call on you for support, the experience would not be frustrating. Thanks for the collaboration.

Remember that behind the elegance of science, engineering and technology, is mathematics that ensures the efficiency of all of them. So, let’s together support programs that will popularize the commonplace application of the principles and methods of mathematics to national education and development. Thanks!

-Prof. S.E. Anku
Founder & Executive Director, MathNED

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