24 November 2009

Nigeria: Enhancing the Teaching of Mathematics

AS the teaching and learning of Mathematics continues to raise serious concern to stakeholders in Nigeria's,, Mclilyville Consulting firm limited in collaboration with Lagos State Ministry of Education has began to offer free Mathematics clinic to students in State Senior Secondary Schools. This initiative is being carried out across the six educational districts of the State as part of efforts to improve teaching and learning of Mathematics in public schools.

Mathematics, being crucial to meaningful technological development, it has become imperative for Lagos state to support any move geared towards improving the teaching and learning of the subject ,hence the decision to partner with Mclilyville.

And determined to demystify Mathematics ,Mclilyville in partnership with state ministry of education held a Mathematics clinic for the Senior Secondary School students in education District five of Lagos state at the Amuwu Odofin Senior Secondary School last week .The participants includes selected students from Senior Secondary School one (SS1) in the fifth education district of Lagos, with each school presenting 10 students for the programme

Conducting the Mathematics clinic, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Mclilyville limited, Mr. Michael Agarana said that the purpose of organising the free Mathematics clinic was to help students to overcome the fear associated with Mathematics. The concept of the clinic, he said was to arouse students interest in the studying of Mathematics ,especially young ones who are in (SS1)

'We are doing this to make sure our weak mathematics students becomes better Mathematicians tomorrow. We are consistent and committed in demystifying Mathematics and developing skills among Nigerian students.' he said

According to him, one of the ways of working on the weak Mathematics students is by using some past weak Mathematics students to demonstrate that no matter the weakness of any students, he can still improve, if he put in efforts. In this context,he used three undergraduates, who were weak in Mathematics before now to boast the interest of the weak students who came for the clinic.

Disturbed by the poor performance of Nigerian students in Mathematic, he said that the vision 2020 will be an illusion, if appropriate attention was not paid to Mathematics and science education in the country, stressing that Mathematics was the bedrock for technology development.

'Without Mathematics, vision 2020 will be an illusion, because Mathematic is the key to technological development of any nation. 'The base for any development is Mathematic and we have to go back to Mathematic to achieve our dream of becoming a great nation in the world' he said.

He disclosed that some of the problems the firm had discovered on why students do not have interest in Mathematics includes the short period allocated to the teaching of the subject, and teachers making the teaching of Mathematics non interesting to students due to the way they handle it. Next, is lack of adequate and good text books, and conducive environment to teach students, as well as lack of qualified teachers.

He also said that after covering the six educational districts in Lagos, the next step will be to organise Mathematics competition for s across the six education zones.

'This clinic is for weak students, but the competition will be for those good in Mathematic' he said

Mr. Adewale Majekudumi, who represented the Lagos State Ministry of Education, commended Mclilyville for the initiative, saying it was a good concept to train the younger generation to be Science and, Mathematic oriented.

He lauded the simple ways in which the organisation introduced some of the Mathematics solving techniques to students, stating that if Mathematic was being handle that way, students will not find it difficult to follow

'It is the aspiration of the government of Lagos to inspire students to learn Mathematics and this is a better platform for them to learn it apart from the normal classroom practices," he added.

Adewale who is from the Department of Science and Technology of the State Ministry of Education, advised the students to maximise the opportunity offered by the clinic to boast their Mathematics knowledge.

He tasked them not to hate their Mathematics teachers even, when they do not understand what their teachers teach, saying that some of the students because they do not understand the teaching of their mathematics teachers hate such teachers.

'Where student do not understand the topic during class hours they should feel free to approach their teachers after for explanation. Any teacher that who refuse to attend to any student on such a crucial need shall be disciplined." He declared and reiterated the Lagos State government's determined efforts to make schooling in the state qualitative and affordable

Some of the students who spoke to Champion Scholar at the occasion, on why they are weak in Mathematics, said that in their junior secondary school s, they do not have Mathematics teachers, even where there were teachers, they do not take their job serious, they simply come in and asked them to copy notes, without any proper explanation of the topics.

Some also complained that the teaching environment for Mathematics in the most of the public secondary were not good for proper Mathematic teaching and learning. Some agreed that they do not pay attention to Mathematics teachers in class because they were of the opinion that Mathematics is difficult.

Said one of the pupils, 'In our junior school, our Mathematics teachers do not teach us well. We did not have Mathematic teachers most of the time. I find it difficult to understand even when there is a Mathematics teacher to teach us. They don't know how to teach the subject. I therefore find it difficult to concentrate whenever they are teaching. Teachers make it difficult for us to understand, they talk too fast and even when we are not following they don't care. Our mathematics teacher in junior secondary school was very hash and scared students away from understanding the subject. He does not teach us anything. He only come to the classroom, give us Mathematics notes to copy or an assignment, and walk away"

The pupils proffered some advice on how the teaching and learning of Mathematics could be enhanced public schools in the State. Their advice include, that government should provide qualified and focused Mathematics teachers, in addition to the provision of conducive environment for proper learning and teaching in schools .

Some of the students advised their colleagues to stop hating their Mathematics teachers, because when they hate them, they can never understand their teachings. One of the students who spoke to Champion Scholar said: 'From my experience at this clinic, I can say that Mathematic is simple but because we have already made our mind that it is difficult, we lose interest in and fail to be carried along. What we learnt today was very simple and easy to understand. We have learnt enough that can make us better Mathematicians in future.' he said .

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