By Jacinta Nwachukwu, NAN
Students’ attitude towards math seems to be shaped by how they understand the subject; and what they consider the role of Mathematics in their lives.
For instance, a student who considers the subject as a bunch of symbols and procedures tends to treat it as a set of memorisation facts.
According to scholars, if a student does not think that Mathematics is important in life, the tendency is for the student not to consider the subject worthy enough to spend time on.
They say while Mathematics is often considered a difficult subject, not all perceived difficulties result from cognitive difficulties.
“For mathematics, there was a 65.71 per cent pass rate for 2020, 54.11 percent in 2021 and 61.39 percent in 2022.
“For Integrated Science, 52.53 per cent of the students passed in 2020, 65.70 percent in 2021, and 62.45 percent in 2022”, said Head of Public Affairs, WAEC, Mrs. Agnes Teye-Cudjoe,
According to the WAEC spokesperson, Social Studies had 64.31 per cent of students who passed in 2020; 66.03 per cent in 2021 and 71.51 percent in 2022.
“It shows “an upward trend in the performance of candidates at Grade C6 and better in Social Studies over the three-year period (2020-2022).
“English Language, Mathematics (Core) and Integrated Science, showed a fluctuating trend in the performance of candidates over the three-year period (2020-2022)”, she said.
The situation is similar to the other O’Level examination conducted by National Examination Council.
“Many children and adults experience feelings of anxiety, apprehension, tension or discomfort when confronted by a mathematics problem.
“Teachers and parents also need to be aware that their own Math anxiety might influence their students’ or child’s Math anxiety”, says a report in Tech Explorist, a science and technology publication.
According to Dr Olatunji Jekayinfa, a Research Fellow at National Mathematical Centre (NMC) Sheda, Abuja, there are many problems associated with mathematics.
He said they ranged from students’ poor perception of the subject as a difficult subject to teachers’ adoption of poor teaching methodologies.
To address the teacher end of the challenge, Jekayinfa recommends that teachers should be trained on effective methods of teaching mathematics.
He posited that with the right teaching method Math teacher will find their jobs less cumbersome with students’ performance will also improve tremendously, adding that Centre was committed to helping Math teachers improve on their teaching skills.
“One of the major mandates of the National Mathematical Centre is to organise training that culminates in quality and effective teaching and learning of mathematics.
“We make sure that the teaching and learning of mathematics is simplified; thereby endearing the subject to the students,” he explains.
Corroborating Jekayinfa’s view, Dr James Ajie, a lecturer in the Centre said there is a need for teachers to undergo retraining so as to be abreast with new teaching techniques.
Ajie described as appalling a situation where teachers, who are expected to be masters in their subjects, did not even understand the subjects they teach.
“Because in a situation where you have people that studied other subjects who are now teaching mathematics there will be problems because you cannot teach what you don’t understand.
“The qualification of the teachers is pivotal towards achieving quality education,’’ he says.
To overcome Mathematics phobia, both the teachers and students will have to demystify the subject right from their minds.
Mr Jare Tiamiyu, a Mathematics Teacher at Al Bin Islamic College, Irepodun Local Government Area, Osun attributed the impression that Maths is a difficult subject to mindset.
He said training will help teachers to know how to combine confidence and teaching the subject with fun adding, that doing so would go a long way in demystifying the subject.
Mr Michael Leshi, another Mathematics Teacher at Divine Favour Model School, Olorunda Local Government Area, Osun, said the quality of training received by math teachers will help both the teachers and students towards effective performance.
According to Prof. Promise Mebine, the Director/Chief Executive, NMC, mathematics is incredibly important because it is used in many professions.
“Every sane person does and uses mathematics, though many do not realise that.
“Truly, mathematics is for everyone, though many people developed a phobia for it because of the general belief that it is abstract and difficult”, he said.
Mebine said mathematics is involved in as simple daily tasks as crossing the road.
“For instance, when you want to cross a road and there is an oncoming vehicle, what do you do? You take the following into consideration: estimate the distance between you and the vehicle.
“The speed of the on-coming vehicle, the time it will take the vehicle to reach your crossing line and the time it will take you to cross.
“All these must be calculated and analysed before crossing the road.
“A good cook who wants to prepare food must take into consideration the number of people to be fed, the quantity of what he or she wants to cook, the size of the pot to use, and quantities of ingredients and water to make food tasty,” Mebine said.
He, therefore, called on Mathematics stakeholders to intensify efforts towards ensuring quality teaching and learning of the subject.