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(OPINION) Open Letter To Buhari; Minister Of Science and Technology, the Minister on Education on Mathematics

Written By Idoma Television on Friday, March 4, 2016 | 2:33:00 AM


The future of every great nation depends solidly on her youths. Until a nation begins to think positively of her youths she will definitely remain unfruitful in all her life.

For a nation to be rated a developed state, it does not have anything to do with her natural resources, neither does it have anything to do with her human resources, it has nothing to do with her age but it is indispensable of technology. Thus, the rating of a nation depends on her ability to take care of her physical and biological needs devoid of foreign aids and supports.

 This will only continue to be an illusion if a nation is failing mathematically, which is the key to technology and development. While most nations are advancing technologically, we are in a nation that is not ready to hear the name mathematics. Mathematics is the key to precision and accuracy which is the basics for quality.

The problem of mathematics in Nigeria is people so we need a reorientation about mathematics. This has to deal with a total review of our mathematical system; the way it is taught and learnt must not be left out. We must go back to the drawing board to re-strategize if a lasting solution ought to be put in place. We now have to find out:
1. How many people want to study technology and mathematics related courses?
2. How many people have failed in the process of studying technology and mathematics related courses?
3. How many are successful studying technology and mathematics related courses?

From the data collected, many of our youths want to study technology and mathematics related courses for that are where the hope and future of this great nation lies, but because of mathematics, our youths are not ready to have anything in common with mathematics. Others failed in the process because they have little or poor foundations in mathematics. The successful ones said, they succeeded because of their personal efforts. Mathematics is really tearing our nation apart. The fear of mathematics has made people to read courses they don’t intend to read. Many of our youths are out of school today because they don’t know mathematics. A lot lost their future ambitions and visions because they hated mathematics with passion.

Mathematics learning in our schools today is nothing to write home about. From our surveys, we discovered that: those who cannot go beyond addition of whole numbers are teaching mathematics in schools. In the primary school setting, one teacher teaches all the subjects including mathematics weather he/she knows it or not. 

They can’t deliver because a blind man cannot lead a blind man. Primary school is supposed to be where mathematics foundation should be aid, thereby destroying the appetite of the pupils towards learning of mathematics. Most secondary schools have only one mathematics teacher from JSS one to SSS3,God forbid the day the teacher falls sick or have an engagement outside school. In such a scenario, meeting the target becomes a problem and in most cases the students are malnourished mathematically. 

A lot of schools are fond of placing advertisement notices “mathematics teacher wanted” from the beginning of the term to the end of the term just to cover up for their inability to hire a mathematics teacher, in such a case, they could convert any available teacher to be teaching mathematics until they get a qualified teacher. Some schools have qualified mathematics teachers but the teachers lack concentration in teaching due to income rate (salaries), lawlessness and indiscipline.

 The only place on can have standard learning of mathematics is in organized private schools. The problem here is that not all parents could afford the fees. Many of our youths are not been exposed to the standard learning of mathematics, so t them mathematics is the most difficult subject.

 An average Nigerian is not ready to hear the name mathematics. To many when you fail mathematics it is normal. If we fail to encourage our youths to study mathematics, the generations after us will not forgive us. One thing we need to understand is that, so long as mathematics is intact, mathematics and development is intact. Lack of interest in mathematics is a wise plan to harm our future. We are today facing the consequences of the careless attitude towards mathematics learning in the past.

There is no area in life that does not require mathematics. The truth is that one’s decision not to have anything to do with mathematics may be personal but not private. It affects our nation and not the individual alone, in fact, the nation suffers it most. 

This is the reason why all hands must be on deck to fight the eradicable menace of nonchalant attitude to mathematics learning in our nation. The truth is that we do not know where, how and when the savior of this great nation will emerge. So we can’t watch the future of our youths, our nation dragged into the mud when we can do something to rescue the situation.
Lack of interest in mathematics is a threat to technology, life and development. The response in the fight against mathematics failure is a welcoming development to boost the study of technology. The effort and commitment of the government is needed to win the fight against mathematics tepid. Today’s misconception about the difficulty of mathematics is still at an alarming state and majority of our youths need an increased awareness on mathematics. I will like to suggest the following to the government:

1. Set up a mathematics learning standard in Nigeria which must be met by all schools and should be a prerequisite to the establishment of schools.

2. Set up a body that will monitor mathematics teaching and learning in both primary and secondary schools, by ensuring that all schools do not only have standard mathematics teachers but also sufficient numbers to meet the school needs. Supervise mathematics lessons, check lesson notes and ensure that teachers simplify the workings and give as many examples as possible. Make it mandatory that at the end of every assessment, teachers should follow up on pupils and students that are not catching up promptly as expected and design a system that will ensure they cope at their own pace of learning.

3. Create mathematics awareness through workshops, seminars, lectures, jingles and distribute relevant mathematics materials to pupils and students. Set up mathematics learning clubs in both primary and secondary schools and organize mathematics competitions in schools. Give awards to pupils, students and schools that have done well to motivate them.

4. Set up a 3 to 6 months intensive mathematics training program for secondary school graduates who intend to further their studies in mathematics related courses. This is to act as a refresher as they await their school certificate and JAMB results.

5. The developed world, learn things in their mother tongues including mathematics which give them an edge and make it easier for them to relate the acquired knowledge to their culture and that is one of their top performance secrets. We can also learn mathematics in Idoma, Yoruba, Housa, Ibo, Ijaw, Urhobo, Tiv, Fulani, Itsekiri, Ibibio, Isoko, Igala languages etc.

 South Korea which the whole world depend on for ship building don’t speak English neither do the teach Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, SHIP Building, Welding, Design etc in English. They use their mother tongue which is the Korea Language. I was in South Korea for Ship Construction training and I discovered that technology does not answer to English Language.

The aim of the project is to:
1. Ensure math success for each and every child: average, gifted and remedial;
2. Improve math skills and close the achievement gap;
3. Maximize the effectiveness of our existing curricula, instructional materials and text books;
4. Personalize instruction for each and every child;
5. Make math a joy to teach and learn;
6. Meet the requirements of the No Body Left Behind Acts (NBLBA);
7. Add confidence, subtract frustration, and multiply math success;
8. Bring technology to our door steps.

The evidence of this mathematics failure is all around us. A significant proportion of Nigerian has little or no access to quality mathematics learning. The situation has been endemic for years and the problems are deep seated. Such a situation cannot be changed overnight, it will take years but the effort has to begin. We cannot and must not give up for the sake of our youths, our future. “Show me a nation that have mathematics and I will show you a nation that have technology”. In fact, mathematics is the life mathematics is the life wire of every nation, mathematics and technology are one. Mathematics is the seed while technology is the fruit.

 No nation can harvest a good fruit until a good seed is sown. The fruit of technology we are harvesting today is as a result of the seed of mathematics w sowed yesterday. This is the reason why all hands must be on deck to ensure the success of mathematics in our nation.
E-mail- donsamuel1@yahoo.co.uk


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