• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Driving learning in English, Mathematics hang on innovative teaching – Stakeholders 

Teaching techniques

Innovative approaches and teacher incentives are seen to be crucial in driving learning English Language and Mathematics in Africa’s most populous nations, say stakeholders.

They noted that Mathematics and the English language are indispensable in every child’s education because of the roles they play in shaping individuals’ thinking.

Kayode Olusola, a teacher in a top secondary school said, “The English language is vital in education because it is a fulcrum to human communication, and without communication, the society would be dead and dry.”

He added that Mathematics gives students a better view of how the universe operates and how to quantify all things so they can be measured.

In Nigeria, students sitting for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) are required to write English language and Mathematics and any other two subjects according to their proposed course of study.

Besides, students seeking admission into higher institutions must have at least a credit pass in English Language and Mathematics, among others to be counted as qualified for the post-UTME.

This many believe is the reason students and parents would cut corners to ensure they score high marks in both subjects both in UTME and WAEC.

Every year many students are caught in examination malpractice in both certificate and entrance examinations.

English language proficiency, experts argue has a significant relationship with mathematics achievement in high school students.

They argue that language proficiency, specifically English language proficiency, is the background factor with the strongest connection to mathematics achievement among all social and linguistic background factors.

In the past five years from 2019 to 2023, Nigerian students that sat for WAEC recorded an average of 72.4 per cent credit pass in English language and Mathematics.

In 2023, a total of 1,613,733 candidates that sat the examination, 1,287,920 candidates, representing 80 per cent, obtained credits and above in a minimum of five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics.

That was marginally higher than the 76.35 per cent recorded in 2022 and lower than 81.7 per cent in 2021. The performance in 2020 and 2019 were 60 percent and 64.18 percent respectively.

However, experts believe that the teaching of Mathematics can be made simple by adopting a more practical approach.

Stanley Alaubi, a lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, said that students should be made to feel the subjects rather than theorising them.

“Mathematics and English language should be made to be more practical. Students should be made to feel the subjects rather than theorise them,” he said.

Friday Erhabor, an education expert, maintained that those in charge of education curriculum should follow a global development plan, and use it to update their curricula.

“There is no reason a new topic incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) should not be incorporated into certain subjects in secondary schools,” he said.

He also called for incentives to be introduced in the study of Mathematics to encourage more students and teachers.

Similarly, Boye Ogundele, a teacher said, that the country’s curriculum has become obsolete and that the content cannot help any learner to have all it takes to compete with other students in the world.

“Our question pattern is garbage in garbage out. Most of the questions don’t allow the students to explore their understanding, I mean no room for creativity unlike foreign examinations we wrote in Nigeria; the IGCSE and Checkpoints. They are all conducted by the British Council,” he said.

“As sensitive as education is, the past government did not help the situation at all based on the appointment of key offices in the sector that are not qualified. A round peg in a round hole.

Besides, a lack of fun for the teachers and lecturers to develop themselves at home and abroad. This must be looked into, there must be incentives for teachers to teach well,” he added.

Research has also shown that having an education system that keeps schools longer for more children would help improve their learning.

According to PISA findings in 2022, “Across PISA-participating economies, at least half of students experienced COVID-related school closures for three months or more.

Systems that spared more students from longer school closures scored higher while their students enjoyed a greater sense of belonging at school.”

Autonomous learning was another approach recommended by the study. “Students whose teachers were available when schools were closed scored higher in mathematics and were more confident about self-directed learning.”

Moreover, the system should encourage building strong foundations for learning and well-being for all students.

During years of COVID-19 disruption many countries and economies saw student learning outcomes decline, Japan, Korea, Lithuania and Chinese Taipei were able to maintain or improve learning outcomes, fairness in the distribution of learning opportunities, and student well-being.

Singapore led the global league tables in the mathematics assessment, followed by Macao (China), Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (China), Japan, and Korea.

Many stakeholders believe that Nigeria can do better with the teaching and learning of Mathematics and the English language if adequate attention is paid to the educators, and learning environment.

Socio-economically disadvantaged students in OECD countries are seven times more likely on average than advantaged students not to achieve basic mathematics proficiency.

Ifeoma Esiri, the chairperson/coordinator of ZODML, a non-profit organisation speaking on the need to have a friendly environment that enables reading said, “There is a need for people to wake up. There is no reading culture in Nigeria because there are no libraries.”

Some countries/economies ensure that students attain a high level of mathematics performance despite their socio-economic background.

In Macao (China), the most socio-economically disadvantaged students scored higher than the OECD average.

Boys outperformed girls in mathematics by nine points but girls surpassed boys in reading by 24 points on average.

Most were confident about using digital learning platforms & finding learning resources, but only 60 per cent were confident about motivating themselves to do schoolwork.