Whiz kids win awards in SA math con­test

Lesotho Times - - Weekender - Lim­pho Sello

KEMP­TON PARK — Nine­teen chil­dren from Le­sotho took part in an aba­cus and men­tal arith­metic com­pe­ti­tion de­signed to boost brain power and stim­u­late young minds last Satur­day in Kemp­ton Park, South Africa.

Of the 19 lo­cal whiz kids who com­peted in the Univer­sal Con­cepts of Men­tal Arith­metic Sys­tems (UCMAS) South Africa 9th Na­tional Com­pe­ti­tion, 10 came home with 11 tro­phies. Le­sotho won four ma­jor tro­phies among the 11 ac­co­lades, with the over­all win­ner also com­ing from the Moun­tain King­dom.

The 10 win­ners also qual­i­fied for the 21st UCMAS In­ter­na­tional Aba­cus and Men­tal Arith­metic Com­pe­ti­tion to be held in Dubai on 11 Novem­ber 2016.

UCMAS Le­sotho Fran­chisee James Ma­beta told the Le­sotho Times the par­tic­i­pants, aged be­tween four and 13 years, were tested on their speed, ac­cu­racy and cal­cu­lat­ing skills as they raced against time to add, sub­tract, mul­ti­ply and di­vide num­bers.

Mr Ma­beta said the pro­gramme was launched in the Moun­tain King­dom in 2012 with the in­ten­tion of help­ing chil­dren cal­cu­late faster and make their minds sharper.

Sixty-nine chil­dren, he said, were en­rolled in the pro­gramme in Le­sotho, with 29 oth­ers newly-reg­is­tered.

Mr Ma­beta said he be­came a UCMAS Le­sotho fran­chisee af­ter look­ing for ma­te­rial to stim­u­late his chil­dren’s mind on the in­ter­net.

“I was surfing on the in­ter­net and came across the UCMAS web­site. In­trigued, I con­tacted the UCMAS head­quar­ters in Malaysia and was re­ferred to South African Fran­chisee Judy Janse van Rens­burg and we agreed to work to­gether, and that is how I be­came a fran­chisee,” he said.

“I then re­alised UCMAS was not just about solv­ing com­plex math­e­mat­i­cal prob­lems us­ing men­tal arith­metic, but also about in­still­ing and boost­ing con­fi­dence at an early stage in life.”

Mr Ma­beta added: “Re­al­is­ing the pro­gramme was a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity, I then at­tended some train­ing ses­sions to op­er­ate a fran­chise and teach the chil­dren.

He said the pro­gramme would in­cul­cate a cul­ture of prob­lem-solv­ing and love for math­e­mat­ics.

“It is com­mon knowl­edge that chil­dren in Le­sotho and Africa in gen­eral strug­gle with math­e­mat­ics be­cause the love of prob­lem-solv­ing is not in­stilled at a very young age,” Mr Ma­beta said.

“I urge the cor­po­rate sec­tor to give us more sup­port to en­sure UCMAS can cater for more chil­dren.”

A par­ent for one of the tro­phy win­ners, Matšepo Man­tutle, said she had no­ticed a marked im­prove­ment in her boy’s cog­ni­tive skills since en­rolling for the pro­gramme.

“I am happy and very much im­pressed with my boy’s per­for­mance and the other chil­dren. We go home proud par­ents, and I am glad that I de­cided to en­rol my child at UCMAS Le­sotho and hope they con­tinue to groom our chil­dren to be the best,” Ms Man­tutle said.

SOME of the win­ners of the com­pe­ti­tion.

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