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Story Highlights

  • Calabar High School is boasting significant results from an initiative being spearheaded by the institution’s alumni to improve mathematics passes among students.
  • The ‘Building a Mathematics culture at Calabar’ programme, launched in 2013, has seen an almost doubling of passes by the boys sitting the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
  • The intervention at Calabar High is in keeping with measures being undertaken by the Ministry of Education to improve student achievement in mathematics.

Calabar High School is boasting significant results from an initiative being spearheaded by the institution’s alumni to improve mathematics passes among students.

The ‘Building a Mathematics culture at Calabar’ programme, launched in 2013, has seen an almost doubling of passes by the boys sitting the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

It has also resulted in improvements in scores received by students taking internal tests.

Immediate, Past President of the Calabar Old Boys’ Association (COBA), Kevin Whyte, says the body in pleased with the results.

“In 2013, the CSEC math passes were 44 per cent. In 2014, it moved to about 62 per cent and in 2015, the math passes for Calabar at CSEC was over 80 per cent,” he tells JIS News in an interview.

Targeting mostly first to third form students, the initiative involves students attending free Saturday classes where themes explored during the school week are reinforced.

The classes, some of which are held during the holidays, are conducted by past students, who offer a fresh perspective and an innovative approach to tackling the subject area. The instructors are paid a stipend by COBA.

Students are encouraged to attend these classes and are provided with refreshments to sweeten the learning experience.

A downloadable math application, available to students, is used to supplement teaching where necessary, as it reinforces aspects that are still not clear to the students.

Incentives are provided to keep students motivated and to encourage them to continue to learn. A scholarship of $50,000 is offered to a grade eight student, who maintains an 80 per cent average in math.

Mr. Whyte tells JIS News that a math mural has been mounted at the school to remind students and teachers about the importance of the subject.

“We painted a wall yellow and we wrote on it, ‘Mathematics is our way of life,” he says.

“It was done from a philosophical perspective so the boys reading it would internalise it as mathematics being a part of them. We also wrote on the wall the names of famous mathematicians and the years they lived,” he explains.

“This is a part of our focus to have math being in the faces of all the boys of Calabar,” he adds.

Third form students of Calabar High School paying keen attention during a mathematics class organised by the Calabar Old Boys’ Association (COBA) as part of its ‘Building a Mathematics culture at Calabar’ programme.
Third form students of Calabar High School paying keen attention during a mathematics class organised by the Calabar Old Boys’ Association (COBA) as part of its ‘Building a Mathematics culture at Calabar’ programme.

 

Meanwhile, Principal of Calabar High School, Albert Corcho, is hailing the efforts of the COBA.

He says that in addition to the classes for the students, COBA has organised workshops for teachers.

“I am here three years now and the programme started then. It started at 43 per cent and has moved up to 80.5 per cent. The Old Boys’ initiative is at the root. They are actively involved. It is impacting them (students) right across the board for math,” he tells JIS News.

The intervention at Calabar High is in keeping with measures being undertaken by the Ministry of Education to improve student achievement in mathematics.

Over the last three to five years, the Ministry has been investing increased time, effort, monetary and human resources in addressing some of the deficits in the system.

Specific emphasis is being placed on improving the capacity of primary and secondary level teachers, as well as on the teacher education programme.

The cadre of Mathematics coaches supporting the system has also been increased.

In 2014, 86 secondary schools were supported by full-time coaches and part-time Mathematics resource teachers.

The Ministry also continues to provide opportunities for teachers, who need additional training and professional development outside the classroom.

The Education Ministry says Mathematics plays a significant role in opening doors for persons to access jobs.

Data suggests that persons achieving higher levels of mathematical competencies are likely to earn up to 40 per cent more than those who are not competent in the subject area.

Math Week will be observed from March 6 to 11.