JIS: Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, is urging Jamaicans not to fear mathematics but embrace it in order to solve complex issues.
“Maths is important, and we as a people should not be afraid of mathematics. We must conquer it. We must make it fun and be able to apply it to some of the problems in our own personal lives and in the general society,” he said.
The Minister was addressing the opening ceremony of the National Mathematics Expo at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) on March 9.
The National Mathematics Expo forms part of the fifth staging of National Mathematics Week, which is being observed from March 5-10, under the theme ‘Math Counts’.
Steps are being taken by the Ministry to improve the performance of students in mathematics by, among other things, increasing the number of teachers qualified in the subject.
In this regard, Mr. Reid noted that trainee teachers have been offered mathematics scholarships since 2015 to pursue the subject at training institutions.
“We really don’t have a lot of specialist mathematics teachers in the system. At the secondary level, you have about 1800 teachers who are actually delivering mathematics, but only 300 have specialist training at the degree level, which is not acceptable,” he said.
National Mathematics Coordinator, Dr. Tamika Benjamin noted that mathematics is important because it continues to play an increasing role, especially in the fields of science, technology and engineering.
Dr. Benjamin said it is necessary to change the culture and attitude towards mathematics, especially the fear associated with the subject. “In Jamaica, we struggle to get most of our children learning, but not just learning – mastering mathematics,” she pointed out.
She said the staging of the annual expo is part of the Ministry’s approach to aiding students to overcome the fear and “to help (them) recognise that maths is something used in everyday life”.
CAPTION: Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid (2nd right), engages grade-10 student of the Spanish Town High School in St. Catherine, Chamoya Williams (2nd left), in a mathematics exercise on a tablet. Occasion was the National Mathematics Expo at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies on March 9. Looking on are (from left) National Mathematics Coordinator, Dr. Tamika Benjamin; and grade-eight student of the Calabar Infant Primary and Junior High School, Roshane Hylton.