Huge financial boost for Maths congress

The 14th annual Mathematics Congress saw over 300 teachers from across the country receive training on the new mathematics curriculum.

13 May 2019 | Education

Walvis Bay • Leandrea Louw

Walvis Bay Salt Refiners (WBSR) cemented a 3-year sponsorship deal with the annual National Mathematics Congress, with the congress receiving N$1 million each year for the next three years.

The four-day congress, which began on Monday, was established in 2006 in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture to improve the learning and teaching of maths in Namibian schools.

Making the announcement at the opening ceremony, WBSR managing director Andre Snyman said he was convinced that the congress was achieving its aim of raising the standard of maths education in Namibia.

“We know that the end product is only as good as the quality of the teachers that you have in the system. If we can lift their performance, we can have a wider impact.”

Snyman said WBSR had been involved as a congress co-sponsor since its inception but seized the opportunity to take over as main sponsor three years ago. As WBSR’s major corporate social responsibility project, he said it met the company’s criteria of focusing on the development of the Namibian child on a national basis and was a good example of a successful partnership between government and the private sector.

Creating a platform

Congress organiser Margaret Courtney-Clarke said the ministry supported teachers with transport and accommodation but that they were reliant on WBSR’s sponsorship to run the congress itself. This year’s theme focused on the teaching of the new mathematics curriculum and its assessment practices.

“Our aim is to create a platform where mathematics educators can meet, share information, discuss common concerns and especially learn about teaching and learning mathematics from other teachers and expert educators.”

She said more than 3500 teachers had attended the congress in total, with some returning year after year. “They are divided into junior and senior primary as well as junior and senior secondary phases. Each group participates in workshops and practical exercises specifically aimed at the level they are teaching. Many schools send all their maths teachers and are reporting positive change and improvement at their schools. We are also seeing an increasing number of teachers involved in post-graduate degrees.”

Erongo region governor Cleophas Mutjivikua challenged the teachers to move away from theory and teach learners to apply science and mathematics in their everyday life.

“Last year I challenged the youth to submit business proposals to assemble calculators and radios locally. My office was willing to assist with the funding and send them for training in applied mathematics and science. Until this day we have not received a single submission. We cannot have gifted people but struggle to apply science and mathematics in our lives.

“The youth are the future, and no matter the era, if we have excelling youth, we have an excelling country. Teachers, let us groom progressive youth. Being progressive is by creating jobs, and not grabbing land or demonstrating for government to give jobs.”

He challenged mathematics teachers to look into development challenges and come up with solutions.

Deputy executive of the ministry Charles Kabajani reiterated that the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields need to be developed. “The fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. We need to engage more in research and development. There are always new things to be discovered and developed.”

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