•Pupils from Various Schools during a national mathematics competition at Nigerian Tulip international College in Abuja… on Saturday
As 30,000 primary school pupils across the federation commence hot pursuit of 15 special Maths scholarships
Just last Saturday, about 30, 000 Primary 5 and 6 pupils in fifty centres across the thirty-six states and the Federal Capital Territory kicked off a bold quest for the fifteen special scholarships and other enticing prizes at stake in this year’s 14th annual edition of the National Mathematics Competition.
At last Saturday’s completion and at the second stage scheduled for March 4, 2017 at centres in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Ogun and Yobe states, candidates are to tackle 75 objective type questions, including 35 algebra, 15 geometry and 25 aptitude questions within 120 minutes.
The award-giving ceremony that would take place on March 15 includes presentation of scholarships and cash awards to the best fifteen, including ₦300,000, ₦200,000 and N100, 000 for the first, second and third top scorers. Mathematics teachers in schools where the best fifteen come from are also to benefit with ₦200,000, ₦100,000 and ₦75,000 for the top three teachers.
Two special awards are also given annually to the two schools from each zone of the federation, whose pupils excel. The prizes include the Carl Friedrich Gauss Award named after Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (17771855), a German mathematician who contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, algebra, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, mechanics, electrostatics, astronomy, matrix theory, and optics. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Princeps Mathematicorum’ (“the foremost of Mathematicians”) and “greatest mathematician since antiquity,” Gauss had an exceptional influence in many fields of mathematics and science and is ranked as one of history’s most influential mathematicians.
The other is Kharezmi Award, named after outstanding 9th century Persian academician, Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi, whose contributions to mathematics, geography, astronomy, and cartography established the basis for innovation in algebra and trigonometry. The word “algorithm” is derived from the Latinization of his name, and the word “algebra” is derived from the Latinization of “al-jabr,” part of the title of his most famous book. Khwarizmi’s works spread to Europe through Latin translations in the 12th Century.
While many remain skeptical or at least, uncertain about Nigeria’s prospects in many regards, several young and brilliant talents are outshining their counterparts in other parts of the world and gunning for future landmark achievements in Mathematics, the subject described by Carl Friedrich Gauss (17771855) as “the Queen of the Sciences . . . the main driving force behind scientific discovery.”
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States of America, Nigerian teen, Vincent Anioke recorded a ground-breaking score of 2390 out of 2400 in the SAT I Examination (Scholastic Aptitude Test), an international exam organised by USA and its result is valid for admission into a wide range of top-cadre universities across the world.
Closer home, another Nigerian teen, Henry Aniobi holds the African continental record for blazing an academic trail with the highest ever score and making history at the 22nd Pan African Mathematics Olympiad, which took place in Nigeria between June 22 July 2, 2013.
Coincidentally, the two passed through the Nigeria Tulip International College (NTIC), which collaborates with the National Mathematical Centre on a project aimed towards helping thousands of Nigerian primary school pupils and secondary school students not only towards overcoming Mathematics phobia but achieving global excellence in the subject and the sciences.
In spite of the prevalent phobia for the subject, Mathematics has essential applications in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, finance and the social sciences.
According to the Director of National Mathematical Centre, Professor Stephen Onah and the Managing Director of NTIC, Mr. Orhan Kertim, whose two institutions are putting in great effort to seed the love of Mathematics in pupils’ hearts, it is possible to effectively curb the fear of Mathematics in a generation where the sciences are proving to be very critical to individual and national advancement.
However, they give credit to thousands of pupils, teachers and parents all around Nigeria, whose efforts and enthusiasm is contributing to the impact of the competition.
According to Professor Onah who seeks more private sector involvement in promoting Mathematics and conquering its fear among Nigerian youth, the subject is one of keys towards Nigeria’s technological advancement.
Speaking in the same vein, Kertim who disclosed that several NTIC products are making waves in several Ivy League institutions across the world, subjects such as Mathematics, Robotics, Physics and Chemistry are being given special attention in order to prepare young Nigerians for a brighter and more technologically-demanding future.
According to Wikipedia, practical mathematics has been a human activity from as far back as written records exist. The research required to solve mathematical problems can take years or even centuries of sustained inquiry. Rigorous intellectual arguments in the field first appeared in Greek Mathematics, most notably, Euclids’ ‘Elements.’
Speaking on Mathematics, Galileo Galilei ( 1564 1642 ) said, “The universe cannot be read until we have learned the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word. Without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.”
It may just be possible for the current generation of Nigerian pupils to rise towards becoming the leading lights of their generation in the ever evolving world of Mathematics, science and technology.
According to one Mathematics teacher, Mr. Umar Tahir who brought his pupils for participation in the national Mathematics competition at NTIC, Abuja, very rigorous coaching and preparation is being infused in brilliant pupils who have demonstrated keen aptitude for the subject. He stated that like dozens of other teachers who brought their pupils for participation in the competition, the objectives include wining scholarship, cash prizes and recognition for pupils, their teacher and the school they come from.
“I brought my pupils from Noble Guide Academy in Kubwa because they have the spark that can change destinies; winning a Mathematics competition can be the beginning of a truly new dawn in our lives,” he said.