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Gifted children, AI top of agenda for Maths Summit

Published:Tuesday | March 26, 2019 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
National mathematics coordinator in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr Tamika Benjamin.

This week’s Mathematics Summit will place high on its agenda artificial intelligence (AI) special education of gifted and developmentally challenged children.

Local and international experts will today kick off the business end of the three-day, high-level policy summit as they seek to improve student outcomes in the much-feared subject.

The summit is a partnership between the Ministry of Education and The Mico University College and is being held under the theme ‘Mathematics for Sustainable Economic Growth and Job Creation’.

National mathematics coordinator Dr Tamika Benjamin told The Gleaner on Sunday that the summit would be mainly for educators, school administrators, and policymakers to help spring them into action to develop, implement, and drive policies that will provide better outcomes for students doing maths.

Particularly, there will be a global ­outlook on the teaching and learning of the subject, organisers say, justifying the need for the presence of international experts at the summit. They are coming from as far as Finland and Japan to share how their systems have worked to turn out world-beaters in mathematics.

“As we move towards looking at our ­education system from a global ­perspective, I hope that we really begin to look at how we have been supporting maths ­education,” Benjamin said, ­mentioning that there will be a strong focus on artificial intelligence in the ­classroom and the link between maths and science.

The national mathematics coordinator stated that there would be sessions where the experts would look at special math s­education for ‘gifted’ children and those who faced mental challenges.

One of the experts in the area that will be participating in the summit is Alfonso Echazarra, an analyst in the Directorate for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. He is expected to posit ideas as to how Jamaica and the Caribbean can better align with ­international benchmarks for ­mathematics, with specific focus on the role of international student assessment. The latest ministry ­statistics show that 62 per cent of primary-school students are achieving ­satisfactory passes in maths, while 60 per cent of students have ­satisfactorily ­mastered the subject at the ­secondary level.