African Maths Initiative

Sharing Initiatives in Maths Education

The official launch of African Maths Initiative-Ghana!

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In today's digital world, mathematical education can play a key role in Africa's development. The need to put more emphasis on grass-root initiatives that focus on growth, scalability and opportunities which may include using technology as an enabler for learning is urgent. This is due to the fact that mathematical literacy acts as an enabler towards the acquisition of skills such as critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, mathematical thinking and reasoning, mathematical argumentation, mathematical communication, problem posing and solving.

 

A team of mathematical educators from Africa and beyond congregated in African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS, Ghana) for a Cross-Pollination in Mathematics Education Workshop in April-May 2019 to discuss the implementation, sustainability, scalability, impact, good practices and challenges for a range of maths education initiatives. Local actors such as the Ghana Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service, University of Cape Coast, University of Education in Winneba, Mfantseman Educational Directorate, Mfantseman Municipal Assembly, and maths educators from all over Africa were invited for this workshop.

 

It was during this workshop that the Ghanaian NGO African Maths Initiative (AMI Ghana) was launched. AMI Ghana’s establishment implies that it can actively play a part in shaping mathematics education in Ghana, aspects of which were discussed during the workshop as part of a theory of change. From these important discussions emerged the formulation of a common mission and vision, such as transforming African society for a better life by supporting Africa to become globally competitive through the advancement of science, technology and innovation. AMI Ghana, through its activities, will work towards these high-level goals. 

 

One of the participants at the workshop was Francis Torgbor, founder of AMI Ghana. For Francis, the establishment and launch of AMI Ghana was  “a dream come true”. He was excited and at the same time aware that the work to build AMI in Ghana had just started with the event of its launch.

 

I was curious to learn about his story and what motivated him to think about taking initiative and to dream about establishing AMI Ghana. 

 

“My basic school through to university education and training days were mainly made up of replicating ideas of teachers and lecturers. There was little room for me to be imaginative and independent in thinking. This made me think education to be mainly reproducing what you are taught for examination purposes, a view most of my colleagues shared until my postgraduate education painted a different picture.” he said. 

 

Before his postgraduate education, he got an internship opportunity with the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Ghana where he served as a junior administrative assistant to the late Prof. F.K.A. Allotey. This internship, which then continued as his national service posting gave him the opportunity to start his postgraduate master studies at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Ghana (AIMS Ghana). 

 

It was during his studies at AIMS Ghana in 2012-2013 that Francis and a group of other students started thinking of ways to change the perception that younger students have of a difficult or non-existent future as mathematical scientists.

 

 “We were inspired to do this through what we experienced at AIMS: an innovative and relevant curriculum within a unique 24-hour learning environment that promotes critical thinking and problem solving as core values.” Francis said. 

 

AIMS Ghana sparked an interest in them to contribute to the Ghanaian education and development. It made them think about the many challenges in Africa and how they could be Africa's problem solvers. This made him have the desire to share positive experiences with school students. It was just a matter of time that the group was able to establish links with African Maths Initiative (AMI), a Kenyan NGO that promotes improvement of  mathematics education practices using approaches such as annual week-long maths camps for Kenyan high school students. A representative from AMI visited the group that Francis and other students formed in AIMS Ghana to explore avenues for collaborations in improving and promoting maths education in the West African country.

 

The AMI representative was very impressed by the group at AIMS Ghana and this led to Francis visiting Maseno University, Kenya - one of the centers that hosted the camps - to participate in the running of the 2013 Maseno Maths Camp. 

 

“It was an intriguing experience for me. I could not overlook the excitement expressed by the high school students at the camp. Students at the camp had quickly developed a love for mathematics and now had a great passion and enthusiasm towards it.” Francis remembers.

 

He saw the teaching style, the focus on problem solving, critical and logical thinking and the use of software such as geogebra and gapminder to learn mathematics as a reminder of his experiences at AIMS. He resolved that together with his team members and other local maths educators they could gain from his Kenyan experience and relay this education style to Ghanaian students as well. Since then, the idea of a Maths Camp in Ghana was born and in 2014 they organized the Allotey Maths Camp, named after the late Prof. F.K.A. Allotey with support from African Maths Initiative in Kenya and the UK charity Supporting African Maths Initiatives (SAMI).

 

It’s now been five years since the group started the Allotey Maths Camp, and over time there has been the demand from teachers who have attended the previous camps to expand their activities into schools. Amongst some of the activities being planned, the Ghanaian team has started some maths club activities in some schools on a pilot basis. AMI Ghana has come into existence to effectively facilitate the existing maths camp activities and additional activities they plan to implement to improve maths education and development. 

 

Francis has big dreams for AMI Ghana which he says will focus its operations in education and research for nationwide development through the popularisation and growth of mathematics in Ghana and Africa. Like stated earlier, this is a dream come true for Francis, however, a dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work and he believes he and his team are up to the task! 

Written by Patrick Njoroge

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