Mathematics still a problem as only 20 per cent pass in national exams in 10 years

THE performance of mathematics in national examinations for the last 10 years has been poor nationwide as only 20 per cent of students in primary and secondary school passed, the Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Joyce Ndalichako, has revealed.

To address the situation, she said, the government, through the 2014 education policy, has come up with a number of options aimed at improving the pass mark in mathematics, which she termed as a catalyst for the development of science subjects as the country gears towards an industrial economy.

She made the announcement in Dar es Salaam yesterday when inaugurating the state-of-the-art mathematics laboratory at Shaaban Robert Secondary School, which applies eleaning programme for the same.

The minister said the Education and Training Policy 2014 states clearly the intention of the government to strengthen the teaching and learning of mathematics as well as all science subjects at all levels of education and make sure that science and technology is more utilised in the provision of education at all levels.

Prof Ndalichako noted that under the programme to improve performance of mathematics, there was need to change the mindsets of students, the majority of whom have been regarding it as tough subject, through improved learning and teaching to make its learning more interactive.

“The Hey Math programme has proven method that makes mathematics learning easy and enjoyable to every student as it as well supports the work of teachers and helps students to build a string foundation in mathematics.

I commend you for being the pioneers in Tanzania in introducing the world class e-learning programme for mathematics. This is a recommended initiative that will eventually result into improved academic performance in the subject,” she enthused.

With the technological advancement used under the Hey Math programme, students will have a number of interactive learning opportunities as it will give room for teachers to know the number of students who log in and what they are doing -- and in time of difficulties -- assist them.

The minister used the occasion to urge students and teachers at the school to fully utilise the facility and disseminate the methodology to other students and schools around Dar es Salaam. In his welcoming remarks, the Chairman of Board of Governors of the school, Sir Andy Chande, said the programme helps the students to become independent learners by accessing a set of animated resources and assessment of materials for concept clarification that is mapped under the curriculum.

He said a number of challenges in implementing the programme include internet speed being unaffordable to many parents, lack of parental monitoring the work in academics and hesitation of parents to embrace modern technology. Meanwhile, Prof Ndalichako said the KKK programme, under which Standard One and Two pupils study three subjects, started this year, the ultimate goal being to equip them with reading, writing and mathematics skills before exposing them to more subjects.

“Prior to that, a Standard One pupil was required to study up to eight subjects. As a result, they could not afford to take them all at a go, hence finishing primary education while still unable to read and write.

We have, therefore, decided to build them with a strong foundation so that when the time arises for more subjects, they can read them well” said Prof Ndalichako. She also refuted reports that primary education will be up to Standard Six starting this year, saying when time is up for change of study duration, all stakeholders will be involved. “I have consulted my colleagues over the matter and they have said that the plan is under the 2014 Education and Training Policy.

But experts are still charting out the methodologies as it involves a number of stakeholders in various sectors. When they are ready, people will get involved. But so far, there has not been any circular to that effect” she added.

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