Very few students show interest in maths – Prof Allotey


Despite the increasing importance of mathematics to economic and societal progress, the study of the subject in Africa is declining, Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Ghana (AIMS-Ghana) has said.

He said several reasons had been attributed to the poor state of affairs in mathematics in Africa such as: “Inadequate student number, particularly females due to poor teaching of mathematics in primary, junior and senior high schools, lack of motivation and incentives and poor employment prospects in mathematics in many sections of the economy other than teaching”.
Prof Allotey, who is a renowned Ghanaian Mathematician and Scientist, made this revelations during his induction as Fellow of the Nigerian Mathematical Society (NMS) in Accra.

The award was in recognition of Prof Allotey’s outstanding contributions towards the advancement of mathematics, science and technology in Africa and across the globe.
Other recipients of the 2017 NMS Fellows Award alongside Prof Allotey, were three eminent Nigerian Mathematicians and Scientists; namely Professors: Jerome Ajayi Adepoju, Alexander O. E. Animalu and Iheanyichukwu Sylvester Iwueze.
Prof Ninuola Akinwande, President, NMS, presented the award to Prof Allotey at the Introduction to Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) for complex diseases workshop in Accra.

The five-day workshop is being organised by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Ghana AIMS-Ghana in collaboration with the H3AbioNet Node of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), University of Ghana.
Prof Allotey said of the various geographical regions of the continent, North Africa was leading in the pursuit of mathematical education, followed by West Africa.
He said within the West African sub-region, Ghana and Nigeria were spearheading in the study of Mathematics.

He noted that Mathematics was the foundation and sine qua non for the understanding the nature of modern science and technology.
“Without mathematical training, Africa will be unable to access the full power of new technologies to solve their countries’ numerous problems.

“In fact mathematicians are famous for seeking out problems and providing solutions to them. They are trained to have analytical skills to think logically,” he said.
Prof Allotey said it was a misconception to think that mathematicians were only employable in the teaching field; declaring that “mathematicians are needed in almost every field of human endeavour”.

He said another important reason was the shortage of well-trained mathematics teachers due to the lack of adequate recognition and support by African governments.
“Many African countries do not seem to be aware of the importance of mathematics as a basic tool for the solution of their numerous developmental problems, consequently, the subject does not appear to get the proper attention it deserves from the national policy making bodies,” he said.

“We can use modern communications technology to address the shortage of mathematics teachers in schools and universities.
“There should be a continuous professional education development for pre-university mathematics teachers. It is very essential for the teachers to update their knowledge.”

He said university teachers should be encouraged to participate in local, regional and international conference to update their knowledge and to interact with people working in their area of specialty.

“I want to state that mathematics can be studied, enjoyed and appreciated without any application to science, engineering and technology. In fact it can be studied like poetry, music and fine arts for its beauty and elegance,” he said.
He pointed out that some good mathematicians had been renowned lawyers, artists, musicians and men of God.

He urged African youth to learn to contribute significantly by researching into the extension of our knowledge in Mathematical Sciences.
“The world is one whole and the people of Africa cannot stand outside it as onlookers. The contributions to mathematical sciences from Africa would make it a complete whole,” he said.

Prof Allotey further urged young mathematics students to work hard and contribute to the extensions of the world knowledge in mathematical science.
Prof Akinwande congratulated Prof Allotey and the other recipients of the NMS Fellows Awards for being mathematicians and scientists of international standing with distinguish achievements
Prof Kwadwo Ansah Koram, Director, NMIMR, hailed Prof Allotey for bringing honour to mother Ghana.