President John Evans Atta Mills has urged Mathematics teachers to adopt simple methodologies that will encourage, motivate and inspire pupils and students to study the subject.
He also urged the Mathematics Association of Ghana (MAG) to take a critical look at the curriculum and re-structure it to meet international standards, thereby enhancing the teaching and learning of the subject.
‘Mathematics can be made more attractive and interesting like football when greater emphasis is laid on its application through practical and analytical thinking, hence membership of all mathematics associations must work together to bring about the desired change”, stated the President.
He made the call in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the 50th anniversary celebration of MAG in Koforidua on the theme:”MAG@50: The issues and the way forward”,
In Ghana, Mathematics had remained the most difficult subject at all levels of education as perceived by many pupils and students, many of whom tended to avoid the subject and pursue it to higher levels, President Mills claimed.
He added: “The teaching of the subject appears not to be related to the environment the pupils and students know very well as argued by the experts; and it is therefore learnt in the difficult abstract way’, he said.
The President noted that pupils and students did not see any relationship between what they were taught or what they have learnt or happenings in their everyday life.
He pointed out that results of the trends in ‘International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for the fourth and eighth grades across the international community placed African countries that participated in the test at the least positions among other countries.
For instance in 2007, he said, Algeria, Egypt, Botswana and Ghana placed 49th, 50th, 54th and 58th respectively among the 59 countries that participated in the test.
“Besides, in the sub-region, it was evident that the performance of pupils and students in Mathematics was very low. The results in Mathematics published by the Ghana Education Service (GES) on the National Education Assessment (NEA) of basic schools and the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) showed abysmal performance of pupils and students”, he noted.
To address these, President Mills stressed the need for a conscious effort to encourage the study of Mathematics and its applications to other fields, and added that obstacles that confront pupils and students must be identified.
The President said the government appreciated the sig¬nificant role the subject played in the recovery and growth of the economy, hence the collabo¬ration with the Ministry of Environment, Sci¬ence and Technology to implement the Mathe-matics, Science and Technology scholarship in senior high schools and tertiary institutions.
For her part, the President of MAG, Ms Adwoa Nkrumah, said the poor final Mathemat¬ics examination results at .the basic and sec¬ondary levels were due to the non-availability of teaching and learning materials.