MEMBERS of the Mathematical Association of Nigeria (MAN) have decried government’s lackadaisical attitude towards teaching and learning of mathematics in the country.
Speaking at the sideline of the 38th anniversary of the association and first award celebration in Ilorin at the weekend, president of the group, Dr Sunday Adeniran, said that Nigerian primary and secondary schools, polytechnics and universities lacked mathematics laboratories.
Dr Adeniran, a lecturer at Bowen University, Iwo, Osun state said: “I am not satisfied with the quality of mathematical education in Nigeria. The reasons are very obvious.
“One, the fact that we lack good facilities for the teaching and learning of mathematics in terms of mathematics laboratory. We have very few mathematics laboratories in Nigeria. And we have some of these laboratories in the Colleges of Education. And it is because a course is attached to that.
“In my research, in the universities and polytechnics, there are no laboratories. In the primary and secondary schools, there is nothing like mathematics laboratory and this is where the foundation is supposed to be laid for good understanding of mathematics.
“Second, we have very many unqualified mathematics teachers teaching the subject in schools and so it becomes difficult to teach it properly. Thirdly, the environment for teaching mathematics itself is not very encouraging and then the reward is given to people teaching mathematics is not very encouraging for them to put in their best even to teach the concepts of mathematics.
“MAN always makes presentations to successive governments. It is the government that employs. We can always make our presentations to the government to actually appoint qualified mathematics teachers. We have various kinds of people teaching the subject in secondary schools. It is abnormal. It is like asking a lawyer to come and serve in the hospital as a medical doctor.”
He said that “the effects of these are phenomenal. Poor mathematics teaching affects the performance of the students; it affects their reasoning as mathematics deals with logic.”
One of the awardees, who is also a mathematician, Otunba Joseph Onifade urged governments at all levels to make the teaching of mathematics more attractive from the primary school level to the tertiary level.
“I urge the government to make the teaching of mathematics more attractive, at least at the primary school level, through the acquisition of teaching aids and provision of mathematics laboratories in schools to the tertiary level as it is being done for physics, chemistry and biology.
“I call on the three tiers of government in Nigeria to pay special attention to the teaching of mathematics in all stages of education from primary school to the university level. At present many students are still afraid of the subject of mathematics that they try to dodge it at the senior secondary school level. This cannot help Nigeria’s progress.
“The rapid technological development of nations like China, Japan, India, Germany, United Kingdom and others in that categories can be traced directly to the seriousness those advanced countries attach to mathematics and its allies.”
In a remark, Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Professor Sulyman A. Abdulkareem, encouraged students to take the teaching and learning of mathematics seriously.
“It is troubling to see these days that people don’t have interest in mathematics. I want to challenge you students that are present here to go back and encourage your other colleagues that do not have interest in mathematics,” the professor of chemical engineering added.
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