More than eight thousand students, teachers and education officials from the pre-primary to tertiary level, converged on the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, for the fourth staging of the Ministry of Education’s National Mathematics Expo. 

In the photograph, students from Clan Carthy Primary School perform a dub poem promoting the learning of maths at the recent launch of the National Math Expo at the UWI, Mona Campus

The exposition held on Thursday (March 10) was the climax of Ministry’s National Mathematics Week which was observed from March 6-11, under the theme: ‘Math Counts’. Partly sponsored by the UWI, the math expo facilitated the engagement of teachers and students in display and demonstration booths that highlighted the importance of Mathematics in all areas of life. 

Along with these, concept-based booths were mounted, allowing for an interactive exploration of mathematical concepts and theories outlined in both the primary and secondary curricula. The students also learnt the application of mathematics to their daily life, different methodologies that can be employed to learn the subject as well as new materials on the market in the subject area. 

Dr. Grace McLean, Chief Education Officer, said the Ministry understood the importance of advancing mathematics both for an individual’s personal development and as a powerful tool to understand and change the world. 

“As Jamaica strives to take its place within a fiercely competitive and highly globalised marketplace, the persons who will be best equipped to provide leadership in many significant areas are those whose reasoning, problem solving and critical thinking skills are best developed,” Dr. McLean said in her address to the hundreds of students who had gathered for the expo’s opening ceremony. 

National Mathematics Coordinator in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Tamika Benjamin, said the objective of the expo was to create an environment where students can interact with the subject in a way that is fun, engaging, and that will help them appreciate and see its relevance and its many applications in everyday life.

“The Ministry has resolved to change the negative trend in mathematics performance by developing, implementing and sustaining a robust strategy, designed to address the critical factors which are affecting the teaching and learning of the subject,” she explained. 

The National Mathematics Coordinator added that in order to change the negative attitude towards mathematics, opportunities must be provided to reduce levels of anxiety, to motivate students, change the belief system of teachers, and to help students see the relevance of the subject. 

Addressing the opening ceremony of the mathematics expo Professor Archibald McDonald, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal at the UWI stated that based on the thrust to create a more academic society, the University hoped that the students recognize that Mathematics should be embraced and not viewed with apprehension, as it opens up to a world of knowledge and opportunity. 

Indicating that primary, secondary and tertiary level students need to be provided with a new perspective on the social and economic benefits of this important subject, the Mathematics Expo he said is the ideal step in this direction. 

“Mathematics is a subject area that teaches us how to utilize problem-solving, critical and analytical skills to find methodological solutions to life’s most complex issues. The value of mathematics is that it teaches us to recognize that there are always logical solutions to any challenging problem we may face, he said. 

Students were able to view booths mounted by organizations, such as Kingston Bookshop, Planning Institute of Jamaica – Vision 2030 Jamaica, LMH Publishing, Sam Sharpe Teachers College, Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, Sangster’s Book Store, HEART Trust/NTA, Jamaica National Building Society, Statistical Institute of Jamaica, Mico University College, University of Technology Jamaica, the University of the West Indies, Jamaica Stock Exchange, Insurance Association of Jamaica, among many others. 

The expo also featured live outside broadcasts, scheduled tours of the UWI, competitions and a variety of games and activities.