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Math Counts needs more funds - UTech lecturer

Published:Thursday | December 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Ministry of Education (MOE) through the National Mathematics Programme (NMP) will spend another $13 million on its public education and marketing campaign dubbed 'Math Counts'.

According to the most recent report on the programme, obtained by The Gleaner through an Access to Information request, $10 million was spent on the campaign between 2014 and 2015.

That money was used to place a jingle and a television advertisement during special events. Eight billboards were also mounted and 20 Jamaica Urban Transit Company buses branded with the Math Counts messages.

The report argued that the expenditure was justified, given that "one significant factor negatively impacting the teaching and learning of mathematics in Jamaica is the negative attitude many teachers, students, parents and members of the wider society have to the subject, often manifested by fear and anxiety".

Michael-Anthony Dobson-Lewis, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies at the University of Technology, has also said that the $23 million being spent on the campaign is justified.

"I think this is a worthwhile spend and that it represents the best spend for the limited funds allocated for the programme," he said in an email response to The Gleaner.

Dobson-Lewis has also called for more money to be allocated to the campaign.

"I would recommend that more funds be made available to continue this campaign if we are really serious about the problems and challenges in the teaching and learning of mathematics in Jamaica; $10, $13 or $23 million is not a lot of money for this campaign, more money is still needed," he added.

Pre-service education

Another area of focus under the NMP has been pre-service mathematics-teacher education. This aspect of the programme consumed $13 million and saw to the training of 55 mathematics teachers who received a total of 62 hours of training over the past two years.

The programme has also sought to utilise experts from Singapore to train teachers.

"The most recent session of training saw 53 mathematics teacher and 25 MOE mathematics specialists being engaged in a 30-hour training programme developed and facilitated by the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Singapore," the report said.

The NIE is an autonomous institute of Nanyang Tech-nological University in Singapore. It is ranked 10th in the world and second in Asia by the QS World University Rankings in the subject of education in 2015.

The NMP has been seeking to reverse the poor performance in mathematics for terminal exams at the primary and high school levels. Grade Six Achievement Test results this year registered a four-percentage-point decline in student performance in mathematics during this year's sitting of the exam.