Yesterday, Ghana celebrated the National Mathematics Day. February 14 was chosen to coincide with Valentine's Day but this year's Val's Day fell on a weekend, hence the choice of February 17. Globally, March 14 is marked as the International Day of Mathematics and the international theme for this year's celebration is, "Mathematics for a better world."
The website www.tntech.edu defines mathematics as the science and study of quality and structure, space and change. Mathematician Benjamin Pierce says mathematics is the science that draws necessary conclusions.
Pierce's words, undoubtedly, underscores the importance of mathematics because conclusions mean end or resolution of issues or problems.
Arriving at the "necessary conclusions" means we would have gone or thought through some difficulties and surmounted them. We can then say the conclusions are achievements or accomplishments.
If the foregoing is anything to go by, then the whole nation, especially the appreciably educated segment of the population, should begin to join a conversation about mathematics and statistics broached by a former Dean, School of Business of the University of Education, Winneba, Professor Christopher Adjei Okpoti.
He has underscored the need for policy makers to undergo orientation courses in Mathematics and Statistics to enable them to do effective analysis and make informed decisions on policies and their implementation.
Prof. Okpoti said the training would also help fight corruption because "Maths is not subjective. Two is two. You can't lie with data."
The Associate Professor said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency ahead of the national celebration of the Mathematics Day.
Prof. Okpoti said since Mathematics and Statistics involved data, we could apply them to achieve meaningful socioeconomic development.
"In fact, in some countries, you need some basics in mathematics to be a Minister of Finance and this is where we should be heading towards because everything you do is about figures," he said.
He said some government officials made arbitrary decisions due to their lack of appreciation of data, which ends in bad results.
The Ghanaian Times does not in one bit dispute the importance of mathematics such as in the choice of careers like banking and finance, actuarial science, architecture, accounting and engineering, but the subject is dreaded in school because of poor teaching.
This is why the professor has appealed to teachers to be creative and practical with it to make it inviting, stressing that he is not enthused about non-mathematics-trained teachers teaching the subject.
In fact, everyone needs mathematics in one way or another. For instance, the numerous traders across the country, literate or illiterate, need basic knowledge of the subject to do business.
Mathematics is about analysis for problem-solving; precision in measurements and making decisions on unimaginable situations. We cannot, for instance, put up a building without corresponding measurements to make it stand strong and beautiful. This is to say it is not only the politician but all of us need mathematics in our everyday life.
Therefore, the Ghana Education Service must help to train mathematics teachers who can teach our young ones well to appreciate the subject for life.