Nedbank Namibia supports ‘Map Mathematics’ project

Changing the views of mathematics
Staff Reporter
Nedbank Namibia sponsored a two-day mathematics workshop last month introducing a new mathematics guide called ‘Map Mathematics’ to 22 senior secondary (grades 10 and 11) mathematics teachers representing schools in Katima Mulilo.

‘Map Mathematics’ was developed by the Namibian Mathematics Institute (NMI) and is a hands-on teaching guide that covers a range of mathematics topics, using maps of Namibia and Africa.

The project covered various mathematical topics like distance, speed, duration, ratios, rates, bearings, vectors and trigonometry using this practical approach to ensure that learners appreciate the need for mathematics in everyday life.

NMI director Pieter Erwee said the NMI is a small non-governmental organisation, with no full-time staff. He runs mathematics projects across the country, depending on the availability of sponsorships.

At the end of the workshop held at Katima Mulilo, each teacher received 60 ‘Map Mathematics’ sets to share with fellow educators and implement at their respective schools.

Erwee develops practical mathematics teaching aids for mathematics teachers and said this is a proven approach to remove the typical fear of mathematics in learners.

According to the National Institute for Education Development (NIED), the teaching of mathematics in Namibia has been a challenge since independence in 1990. Learners’ performance in mathematics at the senior secondary schools’ level has been unimpressive.

Government has since developed the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP), which addresses a wide range of issues, especially with key interventions in subjects such as mathematics, science and English.

Fueled by passion

Erwee, who until six years ago was employed full-time at a university, retired to help improve the standard of mathematics in high schools.

“Mathematics is my passion, and it is the most problematic subject for learners in Namibia. I train teachers and provide them with these materials to implement in school. The feedback I get from teachers is always encouraging,” he said.

The NMI’s work has, however, been impacted by the effects of Covid-19. Erwee said he did not conduct workshops last year because of Covid-19 restrictions. He added that the NMI has developed a range of practical mathematics teaching aids over the past 20 years of its existence in an attempt to improve learner performance at different school levels.

He emphasised the need to improve the mathematics performance of learners by the end of the senior secondary phase (grade 11) because only learners achieving a C symbol or better in the final examination will be allowed to enrol for further mathematical studies in grade 12, for example at National Senior Secondary Certificate Advanced Subsidiary (NSSCAS) level.

According to Erwee, the positive attitude of participants experienced during the workshop was very encouraging, especially in light of challenging working conditions where many of them have

overcrowded classrooms of over 50 learners.

On Nedbank’s involvement, manager for communication and public relations Selma Kaulinge said: “Our social responsibility forms part of Nedbank’s purpose of being money experts who do good for staff, customers and communities. We encourage a culture of giving as it strengthens the communities in which we live and work.

“By uniting communities, we can bridge some of the social, economic and political gaps in our country. Thus, empowering young minds under the NMI remains at the heart of what we do.”