About Math + Culture

Background

In light of the rutindo school vision, a project idea was developed to link gaps in numeracy and mathematics education which is proving a challenge to the rural-based learners.

This was based on the increasingly notable challenges teachers in the school were having to deliver mathematics to the learners and the learners’ negative attitude and poor performance.

The project was initially targeted for Rutindo primary school teachers, however, the school directors thought it would be more beneficial to extend the skills to the neighbouring community schools for the greater good.

Situation Description

Mathematics is traditionally viewed as a “hard, difficult and elitist” subject. The “seemingly” complex concepts and theories of numbers and counting give a frightening attitude to learners, especially the slow and disadvantaged learners (the disabled, girls, rural-based and children in poverty or war-torn area) that struggle to understand the subject.

This is clearly reflected in the general mathematics performance statistics on national level, with Masindi as no exception. A large percentage of learners state mathematics as their worst subject, show negative attitude and disinterest and some, especially girls drop out of school entirely on account of mathematics.

A number of factors could be attributed for this prevailing state including among others societal attitudes for example girls cannot do mathematics, inadequate teaching and learning materials and resources, unskilled teachers or teacher training, teacher complacency and attitude towards mathematics, parental, psychological, and socio-economic factors. In addition, the myths that mathematical concepts are aloof from daily life application and relevance contributes further distancing from the subject

Without doubt, mathematics and numeracy are an integral part of life, without which one will go through at a disadvantage. At every turning corner, one is required to use a numerical or mathematical concept to get around what faces them right from shopping at a grocery store or just to know the time of day, measuring flour for dinner’s meal or carving a chair for sale, the distance from town to the neighbors or the best size of land to purchase and plant a good maize reaping season.

Besides, the growing life and existence challenges call for the capability to integrate knowledge concepts in critical thinking for problem solving, for which many find a challenge as regards mathematics.

In urban areas, children start gaining these skills as early as the ages 4, 5, and 6, unlike their counterparts in rural settings, who may join school without the early childhood foundation. Even so, if a learner from a rural setting manages to make it through to secondary or university level, majority fail to cope with the ever-advancing mathematics and gain little out of it. Many others are then made to repeat classes for years and some opt to drop out of school after a few years.

The math and culture project therefore aims to demystify the importance of mathematics to learners by developing creative teaching methods and aids using existing environmental and cultural artifacts with critical thinking and problem solving. In rural communities, this is an easy and available approach to teaching numbers, counting and formulas etcetera especially since artifacts are locally available; a free resource that surrounds us.

 

Vision

  • To have rural-based learners and teachers understand and appreciate the value of mathematics.

Project Goal

  • To increase the understanding and relevance of mathematics education among primary school pupils and improve the mathematics teaching skills of teachers in Masindi using cultural and environmental artifacts.

Objectives

  • Positively change the attitude of learners towards mathematics and its relevance.
  • Improve teachers’ attitude and proficiency in teaching mathematics.
  • Improve on the deficiency in mathematics instructional materials

Scope

  • Four private and four government schools in Pakanyi sub county, Masindi district.
Target audience
  • 30 Selected primary school mathematics teachers of all levels in Masindi.
  • Selected learners of all levels from the chosen sample schools.
  • Head teachers of the selected schools.
  • Parents of children/learners in the selected schools.

Project duration

The project will run for a period of approximately one year, starting May 15, 2018 to May 15, 2019.

Project location

The project will take place in Pakanyi sub county, Masindi district.

Outcomes/Impact of Project Activities

  • Increased awareness of the relevance of mathematics education.
  • Better attitude towards mathematics education.
  • Practicability and application of mathematical concepts in everyday life and problem solving.
  • Development of practical methods and activities of teaching and learning mathematics.
  • Increased creative ability to make teaching/learning aids for mathematics.
  • Creative use of immediate cultural and environmental artifacts in mathematics education.
  • Improved performance in mathematics as a result of use of cultural/environmental artifacts in the teaching/learning of mathematics

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