Retraining Teachers is key to Eradicating Mathematics Phobia in Students

Tell us about yourself
I’m Aremu Ridwan Olalekan. An indigene of Ibadan, Oyo state. Born on March 8th to the family of Mr Aremu and Mrs Aremu. I had my primary School Education at I.D.C primary between 1998-2004. Secondary School Education at Aperin Boys’ High School, Aperin Ibadan between 2004-2010. I obtained Nigeria Certificate in Education(NCE) in Integrated Science/Mathematics Education at Mufutau Lanihun College of Education, Oremeji Agugu Ibadan, between 2010-2013. I proceeded to University of Ibadan, Ibadan, to study Mathematics where I obtained B.Sc in Mathematics between 2015-2018. Am currently serving my father land at Sagacity Int’l College, ABAOMEGE, Onicha LGA in Ebonyi State.

Recently you organized an inter secondary school mathematics competition as a corps member, what motivated such idea?

Thank you for asking the question. Before I was deployed to serve in EBONYI state, as a corps member, I have had the thought of doing something spectacular during my service, to reduce the phobia for mathematics. So, in November 2019, I conducted a mini research on mathematics phobia, because I had noticed students have fear for mathematics. I administered questionnaires on mathematics phobia for about 100 students in EBONYI state. The result of the research shows that, 95%(both males and females) of students in EBONYI state have fear for mathematics. This made me came up with the plan to demystify the fear by organizing inter school mathematics competition, which will reward excellence in the studying and learning of mathematics and thereby, reignite students interest in mathematics. That was how I came up with the idea and main reason for the project.

I know in NYSC, before you can do a personal CDs, it must involve some processes, what are the processes undertaken before organizing the competition?
Yes! Truly, I undergone some official processes before organizing the competition. In NYSC, they are processes and procedures for personal CDs. The first is, Project Proposal. This contains how you plan to undertake the project, objective of the project, source of fund, estimated course, time frame of the project, and commissioning. I wrote the project project in January, gave the Principal of My Ppa for approval and I submitted it to my local Government Inspector(LGI) for Onicha LGA for onward submission to the state coordinator. And the second is, project approval. The LGI, gave me go ahead and I started the plans.

For a project like this, fund is always a problem. How did u source for fund for the project?
Ahhhh! I must tell you that source for fund wasn’t easy. I earmarked more than 50k for the project. I started the sourcing for fund when a came up with a graphics that depicts information about the competition. My friend, a corps member too, but late now, Late Nduka Daniel, designed the flier for the project for me free of charge. I started trending the flier on all my social media handles to create awareness and call for sponsorship and assistance from people. I trend the flier everyday on my whatsapp before the event.I wrote letter of assistance to the principal of invited schools, public figures in Abaomege Ebonyi state and some of them donated. I got donations from people that saw the fliers online. Most of my fellow corps members also assisted me with token. That was how I sourced for funds. Sourcing for fund wasn’t easy but I thank everyone that donated. They really made it a success.

What’s your perspective on mathematics phobia in students?
Thank you for asking that question. Like I said in the lecture I delivered to the students on the day of competition. Mathematics is an indispensable discipline. We need the knowledge of mathematics in our day-to-day activities. The phobia for mathematics could be traced to what we have heard about the Mathematics. Take for example, if person A tells person B that mathematics is difficult. Person B won’t investigate before telling Person C. Person C goes on to tell person D the same thing and the trend continues. Also, Bad mathematics teachers contribute to phobia students have for mathematics. Bad Mathematics teachers are like sense that put bad mathematics concept in the mind of students. They never know how bridge the gap between abstract and real part of mathematics? They complicate the learning for students and make the subject uninteresting. This trend starts from primary school up to tertiary institutions. You will be surprised that, I have met some graduate that do not know the square root of 36. Just imagine! You would want to ask how such graduates pass mathematics at senior secondary school level. The problems are bad impressions and bad mathematics teachers.

What do you think Government can do to strengthen the teaching of Mathematics to demystify the fear from basic level of studies?

Thank you very much! The Government needs to invest more in Education and in particular, in teaching and understanding of Mathematics across all levels. Invest more on capacity building. Retraining of Mathematics teachers on how best the subject is taught in the 21st century. Provision of Mathematics Textbooks for students and Mathematics instructional materials for teachers to aid the teaching and understanding of Mathematics. Paying remunerations of teachers as and when due to motivate teachers. I think if all these are done, it would go a long way in demystifying the phobia students have for mathematics. Without Mathematics, our technological advancement would be a mirage.

What was your fearful moment while studying Mathematics in higher institutions?

Smiles! If I want a tag moment as fearful during my time in higher institution, i would tag my project defense day. I had some fears before the day because I was thinking about those questions that professors and other lecturers would ask me. On the defense day, I was somehow nervous but I thank God the presentation was spectacular eventually. That’s the only fearful moment I had.

Now that you have achieved the aim and it has gone down well in memory, how do you feel?

I feel fulfilled. I’m elated that I have written my name in gold not only on the mind of the students but also in ebonyi state and Nigeria at large. I feel elated that, I have served as good point of reference for many corps members out there and all prospective corps members. I’m ecstatic about that. The project has given me unimaginable fame, I must say and I thank God for that.

Can you point out any challenges you encountered during the planning stage for the project?

A8: The challenge I encountered was source for fund. It wasn’t easy. There was I time I went out to source for fund at shop in ABAOMEGE. I waited for 15minutes after explaining what I wanted. The owner of the shop (a shop full of provisions and other goods) gave me N100 as donation. I was surprised and I felt somehow. Still I thank the woman for donating. It was really sad moment.

What is the nature of prizes given to the winners and other participants of the competition?

Thank you! Let me state it that, the competition rewarded 1st, second and third positions. Prizes given to the winners range from Mathematics textbooks, scientific calculators, mathematics questions pack, four figure table, to exercise books, and certificate of participation for all participants. All the participants got prizes regardless of their positions.

Who and who will you like to thank for supporting you.

Firstly, I thank God for making it a success because if not God, who is Aremu Ridwan. I will like to use this medium to thanks to NYSC EBONYI state for granting the project as my personal. I thank everyone that donated in one way or the other. I appreciate Principals of all invited schools. I appreciate the support fellow corps members in ABAOMEGE gave me. They made it a success. I appreciate everyone that contributed to the success of the project. God bless you all! Thank you!

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