By Chinyere Nwachukwu
Lagos – The Registrar, West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Dr Iyi Uwadiae says the knowledge of Mathematics remained indispensable for further studies and national development.
Uwadiae said this in his keynote address at the 54th Annual Conference of the Mathematical Association of Nigeria (MAN)
The theme of the conference is: Mathematics as Key to Sustainable Change in Growth and Development.
According to him, the essence of Mathematics education at both the basic and Senior Secondary school levels includes raising individuals that will comprehend, analyse, synthesise, evaluate and make generalisations in order to solve Mathematical problems among other skills.
“Mathematics provides a powerful and universal language that is appropriate when communicating Mathematics ideas, reasoning and findings both orally and in writing, especially in this 21st century.
“The progress of a nation is measured in terms of its ability to meet the needs of its citizens.
“Every nation therefore makes concerted efforts to meet these needs in the most effective and efficient manner.
“Nigeria is a developing nation and that is why it is still grappling with poverty, hunger, overpopulation, unemployment, diseases and many others and therefore, a lot needs to be done to tackle these setbacks and make it comparable with other developed nations.
“A good foundational skill in Mathematics is therefore sine qua non to improvement in the various sectors and therefore as a subject, it should be given its pride of place in the school curriculum.
“There is no doubt that education us a tool for national develooment. The knowledge and skills required for such development are acquired from the carious subjects and courses studied in school,” the WAEC boss said.
Uwaduae added that Mathematics equips students with analytical and logical minds needed to learn the other subjects.
He said that student’s achievements in Mathematics enable them to develop self -confidence and become self radiant.
“It could be argued that the more self-confident a student is, the more easily he or she could learn any subject and the more meaningful contributions they could make to national development,” he said.
Uwadiae said that Mathematics was the language of Science, Technology and Engineering adding that the developments in these areas and their contributions to global development were made possible by knowledge of Mathematics.
He noted that understanding Mathematics was essential to understanding the output, usually presented in the form of computer graphics and sequences of contoured fields of the basic variables.
“Thus, there is need for meteorologists to have good Mathematics skills as the impact of weather forecast on aviation, agriculture transportation , tourism and other allied sectors on national growth and development cannot be ignored.
“Schools’ ability to improve students’ basic skills in Mathematics and literacy are important to economic growth.
“Students enrollment measures do not reflect how much students are learning as knowledge capital is what matters in national development and as cognitive skills are highly related to growth,” he said.
The WAEC boss further added that Mathematics is a prerequisite for admission into tertiary institutiobs for many courses and also for effective performances in some occupations.
Accordingcto him, the majority of the candidates will not be qualified for admission into higher institution or be effective at work.
“If such students are not encouraged and motivated to improve in their oerformances, a large number of them may drop out and the desired growth and development in our nation may be difficult to achieve,” he said.
He however identified the fear of Mathematics, inappropriate teaching methods, inadequate qualified Mathematics teachers as well as inadequate infrastructure as some of the challenges militating against the development and mastry of the subject among the students.
Uwadiae said that efforts must be made by parents, guardians, counsellors, principals and other stakeholders to change students’ mindsets about Mathematics being a monster subject.
He also said that admission of students to study Mathematics at the university should be based on academic qualification instead of catchment area.
According to him, one of the greatest tragedies of the past decades is the collapse of an education system which was founded on sound developmental goals.
“It is imperative to address the litany of challenges of teaching and learning of Mathematics in the Nigerian education system .
“The tasks ahead are numerous and daunting It is clear, that it will be imposible for these radks to be tackled by government alone.
“The involvement of major stakeholders in all sectors of the economy will be essential if the goals and potentials of Nigeria are to be realised,” he said