UWI: Poor secondary and tertiary Maths performance needs urgent intervention
University of the West Indies (UWI) officials are calling for more action and less talk across the region to confront the low performance in mathematics at the secondary and tertiary level.
Dean in the Faculty of Science and Technology at the UWI Cave Hill Campus, Dr Colin Depradine, said the situation has reached the stage where urgent intervention is required.
He was the lead spokesperson on a symposium on mathematics held yesterday at the university to devise a plan to counter the challenge.
Dr Depradine said what is required is innovative, sustainable, and actionable ideas.
“The fact is that we live in a cash-strapped environment within the region and so any approaches that we adopt have to be different from what is normally seen in the world. Copying others has pretty much failed and will continue to fail. Our situation is unique to us and we must adopt unique solutions,” he said.
Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr Justin Robinson pointed to a “maths phobia” in the region, noting that there appears be competency in the subject area up to 11-plus exams, which rapidly reverses at the secondary school level. That problem, Dr Robinson said, often spills over into the university.
“For the last academic year we delivered in our faculty 132 courses and of those courses there were 31 that had a failure rate higher than 25 per cent and 29 of those courses were mathematical courses,” he said.
“What we find as well is that in many areas analysis can be enhanced if you bring to bear the mathematics but a lot of students, even though they’re doing their degree, are not getting the maximum benefit because they almost wind up sitting down on the soft side of the discipline.”
The theme of the conference was ‘Dare to be Different: Revitalizing Mathematics’.