International Math Education Workshop Opens at JKUAT

From Left (Front) Prof Mwita, Prof Magoma and Mr Kiburi join other participants during the workshop proceedings.

From Left (Front) Prof Mwita, Prof Magoma and Mr Kiburi join other participants during the workshop proceedings.

A week-long international workshop aimed at strengthening higher education institutions in East Africa as development responsive institutions by enhancing curriculum development, pedagogical approach and capacity of staff in mathematics education and teacher preparation,  opened at  JKUAT Main Campus, Juja, Friday August 1, 2014.

The workshop dubbed:“Mathematics Education and Working Life Relevance in East Africa, organized under the aegis of Higher Education Institutions , Institutional Cooperation Instrument (HEI-ICT) Project, is a  collaborative initiative of JKUAT through African Union’s Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUISTI) and the Finish Government through Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT).

The partnership brings together over eleven universities drawn from Finland, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia.

Education PS, Belio Kipsang, in remarks read on his behalf by Mr. James Mwangi Kiburi during the launch, lauded the Finish Government and JKUAT for “facilitating the coming together of top-notch think tanks in applied mathematics from universities, research institutions across two continents to share their experiences to promote mathematical research and improve capacity of the region’s next generation of scholars with emphasis on innovations.”

Taking a break from the mathematics talk at the workshop!

Taking a break from the mathematics talk at the workshop!

The PS reiterated that “applied mathematics around the world has proved necessary for optimization of industrial processes, to reduce costs, increase efficiency.” He observed that building cooperation between African academia and local industries is critical to “increasing the region’s productivity and climate sustainability awareness.”

Welcoming workshop participants, PAUISTI Director Prof. Gabriel Magoma appreciated the generous support from the Finish Government and the African Union Commission towards the initiative, which he noted, aims to “concretize the relevance of mathematics in working life.”

In his presentation, titled: “Education system in Kenya and performance of mathematics,” Prof. Magoma gave a kaleidoscopic snapshot of the education system in Kenya, particularly the status obtaining in the performance of mathematics and science at primary and secondary school level, and how students’ admission scores, teacher –pupils ratio, teacher qualification and experience; availability of instructional materials; and school category affect performance in maths and science.

Elucidating on the “Goals of the HEI – ICT Project, Maths and Industry Development,” Head of HEI-ICI Prof. Matti Heilio, said the project activities include a series of thematic workshops in partner institutions “to promote applications oriented mathematics education with emphasis on innovation and working life relevance, and initiatives to invigorate maths teacher education training programs.”

Participants pose for a group photo after the first morning session.

Participants pose for a group photo after the first morning session.

Prof. Matti further said, the initiative also seeks to “raise interest in increased academia-industry interaction in mathematics and exploring ways of educating the next generation of maths teachers, culminating in a memo of ideas, actions and operational plans.”

Others who made incisive presentations include: PAUISTI Mathematics Coordinator and Statistics  academic Prof. Peter Mwita; Dr. Matylda Jablonska-Sabuka( Lappeenranta University of Technology); Dr. Simo Ali-Loytty (Tampere University of Technology, Finland); Prof Livingstone Luboobi (Makerere); Macdonald Obudho (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics); and Ateng Ogwel (Centre for Mathematics Science Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA).

Topics being explored at the workshop that  has attracted an array of regional and international researchers, industry players and scholars, include: job market for maths graduates in Kenya; Building cooperation with industry through modelling weeks and study groups; Necessity of improvement of higher education; Curriculum and     education in Finland; Mathematical languaging, Trends in mathematics education in Africa, among others. The workshop comes to a close on Tuesday, August 5.

Other institutions represented at the workshop include: Oulu (Finland); Dar es Salaam and Nelson Mandela (both from Tanzania); National University of Rwanda, Kigali Institute of Technology; Busitema (Uganda) and Bahir Dar (Ethiopia).

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