As part of its continued effort to improve the Mathematics performance of pupils at the National Grade Six Assessment [NGSA], the Ministry of Education has introduced a ‘Maths Camp’ initiative. This publication has learnt that a Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] to this effect has been set out to primary schools across the country by Chief Education Officer, Mr. Marcel Hutson.
Speaking of the MOU initiative yesterday, Senior Public Relations Officer within the Ministry, Mr. Brushell Blackman, said that by way of the memo, schools have been instructed to conduct mathematics camps within the respective regions.
As stated in the memo, Blackman said that “all grade six pupils must be informed and given the opportunity to attend the Maths camps.” The sessions, he related, are being offered at no cost and therefore cannot be misconstrued for extra lessons.
“Parents will not have to pay for their children to be a part of the camps, and according to the CEO, too, parents can even accompany their children if they so desire,” Blackman added.
He revealed that starting from January 27, 2018, the activity is expected to be conducted on Saturdays, between 09:00 and 12:00 hours, until March 24, 2018.
Blackman explained that schools in close proximity can meet in clusters at a common venue. This, he said, will translate to students from schools in North Georgetown, South Georgetown and East Georgetown meeting at the North Georgetown Primary School, West Ruimveldt Primary and F. E. Pollard Primary schools, respectively.
The main purpose of the activity, Blackman said, is to discuss difficult mathematical topics and concepts, and to share effective methods to address same with emphasise on problem-solving techniques.
The initiative is expected to see Maths coordinators and Monitors organising and being actively involved in this exercise, along with teachers from the various schools. In order to ensure the efficacy of the programme, Blackman said that moves are apace to develop a structured programme to ensure its effective delivery.
“Based on what the CEO is saying, this is not going to be a one-off thing, it will be done up until the sitting of NGSA, and teachers and monitors who were employed during the maths intervention [last year] and other officials will play an integral part in Maths Camp every Saturday,” Blackman related.
The 2018 sitting of the NGSA will be conducted on March 28 and 29.
In the quest to ensure that pupils are on the right track, the Ministry recently conducted ‘Mock’ NGSA examinations. This tactic is one that was geared at highlighting the weaknesses of pupils with a view of having them addressed.
Last year, a Mathematics intervention saw the Ministry recording a 46 percent pass rate in the area of Mathematics. This came on the heels of a daunting pass rate of 14 percent
Over the years, the Ministry has been faced with a problem of considerable weakness in the subject area. The intervention entailed a number of aspects such as training for teachers in content and methodology, and over 1000 teachers were trained in this regard.
The strategic movement also entailed fortnightly cluster meetings in all regions which were conducted with both public and private schools. There was also recruitment of Mathematics coordinators and monitors, training of officers and School Administrators to supervise the teaching of Mathematics, and the administering of a diagnostic assessment of pupils in the hinterland regions prior to training of teachers.
Added to this, the intervening measures included enhancement of public relations, parental involvement in the education of children and acquisition of support materials for students.
This, moreover, allowed for Mathematics to be the most improved subject area, characterised by an increase of over 30 percent in the number of candidates gaining 50 percent and more last year.