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Stakeholders call for constant retraining of mathematics teachers

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The need for policy makers in the education sector to concentrate on training and retraining of mathematics teachers in primary and secondary schools across the country, dominated talks at The Ultimate Mathematics Ambassador’s (TUMA) award and prize-giving ceremony.
   
TUMA is a yearly mathematics contest designed by The Ambassadors Schools, Ota, Ogun State, for primary school pupils in Lagos and Ogun states with the aim of arresting pupils’ phobia for mathematics at an early stage.

“Teaching has nothing to do with the curriculum or content; it is the totality of the teacher that reflects in a pupil. Teachers should be regularly trained and encouraged. The best brains should also be allowed to handle mathematics and science related subjects. If things continue this way, then the future of our children is at stake.”

 
Speaking at the event, Vice Chancellor, Covenant University, Ota, Prof Charles Ayo, who chaired the occasion said there was an urgent need for policy makers to place emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as improving the capacity of handlers of the subjects.
   
According to him, the negative happenings in the nation’s education sector was an indication that certain things were not right and until those factors are identified and addressed, the situation may remain unchanged.
 
“The Quality of education in Nigeria is on the decline, therefore it is not surprising seeing a lot of negative happenings in the education sector. They are just pointers to the quality and level of education and like I always say, if there must be positive developments in this nation, emphasis must be on STEM, since mathematics is the foundation of all disciplines,” Ayo stated.
   
He added: “The poor standard of education, did not just start with students but with teacher. What we have heard about mathematics teachers in Ekiti State, where they wrote primary three mathematics test and less than 10 per cent passed, we have heard of similar story in Edo State, which was about lecturers who could not write application letters much less take care of other challenges.
   
“And so, it is a serious concern that calls for a national reorientation of teachers. We cannot begin to talk about improving quality without doing so holistically starting from the grassroots and involving both primary and secondary school teachers. It is when we are able to comprehensively address the issue that we will begin to see improved quality of education in Nigeria,” the professor of mathematics concluded.
 
The Director General, National Mathematical Centre, Abuja, Prof Adewale Solarin, on his part, regretted that teacher development has not been given the needed attention hence the dwindling fortunes the education sector was experiencing.
 
He stressed the importance of providing teachers, especially mathematics and science teachers with incentives that would always motivate them to work hard and inspire their pupils.
   
“Teaching has nothing to do with the curriculum or content; it is the totality of the teacher that reflects in a pupil. Teachers should be regularly trained and encouraged. The best brains should also be allowed to handle mathematics and science related subjects. If things continue this way, then the future of our children is at stake.”
 
While commending the organisers of the competition, he challenged public schools to get involved as scholarship awaits any public school pupil who finishes in the top ten.
 
His words, “I will do all within my powers to encourage organisers to see that this competition holds yearly. Everything about life is mathematical, everyone does mathematics every time, but it is just that we are not conscious of it. If people take interest in mathematics they will find that life is easier for them, the more reason why mathematics is a compulsory subject.
 
“I am inviting public schools to participate in the next season and any public school child who gets into top ten, we will offer him/her scholarship. Every students must strive to develop interest in mathematics so that they can excel in all other subjects.”
 
Chairman of the school and host, Mr. Samson Yomi Osewa, informed that the overall aim of the competition was to provide a lasting solution to the fear of mathematics by pupils
   
“Following our discovery that students have phobia for mathematics, which leads to poor performances in science courses in primary, secondary and at tertiary levels, we took the initiative of solving the problem by organising competition among pupils. This we believe will help to boost the development of science and technology in the country and then the development of the nation at large.”
 
In our third year of sponsoring this programme, we have heard testimonies of turnaround among pupils who hitherto had phobia for mathematics, but who are now super brats. For all these, we are indeed fulfilled not only because of the awareness of this competition but also the number of pupils groomed yearly for this competition. The new zeal to learn mathematics among pupils and the commitments of the teachers in seeking new ways to teach their pupils for retention and for understanding has also improved.”
  
Nine-year-old pupil of St. Bernadette School, Ipaja, Lagos, Master Akinleye Akinfoluhun Akintobi, emerged the overall winner of the 2015 exercise with 81 points. He won a cash prize of N125, 000 for himself; N50, 000 for his teacher; a laptop, printer, plaque and mathematics textbooks for his school.
 
Akingbade Busolami from The Frontliners School, Alakuko, Lagos won the second prize with 79 points. She went home with a cash prize of N100, 000 for herself, N30, 000 for her mathematics teacher and a laptop, plaque and textbooks for her school.
  
Giwa Modesola Faridat from Tomobid School, Ikeja who won the third prize also smiled home with N75, 000; N20, 000 for her teacher and a printer, textbooks and plaque for her school.
  
Consolation prizes of N15, 000 for pupils and N10, 000 for subjects teacher were also given out to other pupils who made the top 10.



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