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Need to Sustain Momentum
An Effort to Revamp Mathematics Education in Ghana


Recently, MathNED initiated a program to revamp and rekindle interest in mathematics education in Ghana. Part of the program, a MathNED Mathematics Road Show, involves traveling to schools around the country and giving talks on Everybody Can Do Mathematics and Pursuing Excellence in Education. This part of the program started with visits to schools in Cape Coast and Accra Girls Secondary School where students enthusiastically welcomed the talks.

These talks were reported in the Daily Graphic and the current Director General of the Ghana Education Service (GES) witnessed one of the talks. Many schools have been requesting for the talks for their students. However, there has been a pause because of lack of funding. I have written to many corporate organizations for support. A typical response is that it is very good idea and that I should pursue it but they are sorry they have run out of funds. Some respond that they are not allowed to support such things.

May be if only I should organize a Miss Mathematics Beauty Pageant, some funding will flow! Remember this is mathematics that ensures the efficiency of science, engineering, and technology that we need to develop Ghana. It is a subject whose principles and methods must be understood and enjoyed by many who study it. However, it is the subject that is traumatizing students the most. It is the subject that, for many, is blocking access to higher education and progression in chosen careers. Canít anything be done about the apparent poor state of mathematics and the dislike for this beautiful and powerful subject? A lot can be done if funding is made available.

Another part of the program to revamp mathematics education in the country is the declaration of February 14th each year by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (MESS) and GES as a National Mathematics Day. Mathematics is not a one time activity but an everyday life activity and the National Mathematics Day is only an awareness creation day. So, a lot of everyday life activities need to be introduced into the mathematics classroom. It has been suggested that students spend two of their mathematics periods in a week to engage in practical mathematics where they build models showcasing the connections between the concepts they study and real life situations. MathNED has sent an initial list of models to be created to schools through the Director General of GES. The models created during the year are to be exhibited by the students on each February 14th as they celebrate the National Mathematics Day. Innovative models can be collected and stored in mathematics museums to be established nationwide.

To realize the essence of the practical activities in mathematics, teachers will need workshops to prepare them to effectively help students to create the models. The National Mathematics Day should not remain a mere slogan and a nine day wonder but something to impact positively on the whole mathematics environment in the country. We must have something to show the country and the outside world that we are serious in our efforts to revamp mathematics education in the country. So, the workshop for teachers must be taken seriously and funding provided for its organization and implementation. This will be a legacy left for the nation by GES and MESS.

Another front of the program is the international exposure for students. Recently, some high school students were sent to Abuja, Nigeria to participate in the 17th Pan African Mathematics Olympiad (PAMO). The students rubbed shoulders with students from other African countries in trying to solve very challenging non-routine mathematical problems. While some countries spent over six months camping and training their students, we had barely three weeks to do so. For PAMO 18th in Egypt next year, students must be camped and trained for a while before the competition. Budget proposals are available for such purposes.

Furthermore, at the instance of MathNED, a mathematics association for students, Mathematical Community of Ghana (MACOG), has been formed by students. It was launched recently in KNUST by Pro. Jin Akiyama, a professor of mathematics from Tokai University, Tokyo, Japan, who was in the country as a guest of MathNED, to give talks at our universities on connecting mathematics to real life. MACOG is to focus on grass root mobilization of students into mathematics clubs in their various schools. The first major activity of MACOG will be a one-week summer camp in mathematics for about 400 selected students nationwide to be held at KNUST, with 4 students each from the countryís universities, polytechnics, teacher training colleges, and secondary schools.

I hope the piece above clearly spells out pragmatic efforts by MathNED to revamp and rekindle interest in mathematics in Ghana. What is left is the will by GES and MESS to support the program with funding to make it a reality that will change the trauma of studying mathematics to fun and appreciation of the power and beauty of mathematics. Corporate organizations and many capable individuals can make a difference by supporting and sustaining this program to revamp and rekindle interest in mathematics in Ghana.

Contact me through sitsofe@mathned.org or through Box NG 256 Nungua, or through 028 826 7159 to announce your support and contribution to the program. Letís recognize for once that mathematics matters. Thanks for reading and for your impending support.

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

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