If there are no qualified Maths teachers at your childrens’ school, don’t complain… Get together with other parents and fix at least this ONE problem now! Why? Because there is ZERO time to waste!
In my last #LionessMom post, I introduced a Maths teacher from Nigeria who used her skills as a mom and a teacher to encourage her two sons (in their early teens) to develop their own business based on an Application (App) they developed that can now be downloaded on Android. Why?
“Because the times, my friend, they are a-changin’…” (song by Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan)
When my mother left school in 1960, she and her generation were raised to believe that education was LITERACY. The colonial education system was designed for the purpose of the colonial economy. They wanted a small educated elite who could speak the language of the master well.
Being educated was really about speaking and writing English, French or Portuguese well. Things like Maths were not really taught, beyond basic “Arithmetic”. Whilst colonialism has been gone for the past 60 years, the emphasis on “literacy over numeracy” has not gone in much of our appreciation of what is an “educated person”!
__But “the times they are a-changin”!
The world is rapidly depending on numeracy as the basic skill now, because of computerization and now things like Artificial Intelligence (AI). The countries that are excelling, like China, India, Singapore, and South Korea, totally drive their education system on numeracy, rather than the “letters” (literacy).
This is not to say we should not teach the ability to “read and write,” but if our children are going to be masters of their environment, we need a revolution in numeracy.
We need everyone who can teach maths to get going! This is why I see an urgency in the teaching of Mathematics.
One more thing: Did you know there’s a condition known as “numerophobia”? That is, a fear of numbers! There are people who avoid anything to do with numbers. They either speak gibberish or panic completely!
This is a disaster if you’re an entrepreneur or a leader. I meet a lot of entrepreneurs who cannot talk numbers of their own business, and even if they do, it can be sadly hilarious.
A guy sat next to me on a plane once, and was keen to engage me in a conversation, as an entrepreneur. Given the way he was dressed and manner of talking, it was clear he wanted people to know he was doing well. Here’s how our conversation went, once he knew who I was:
“Mr Masiyiwa,” he said. “I’m making a lot of money, I tell you!”
“Okay, give me an idea. What are your margins?” He had told me he bought and sold goods.
“Margins?” he said. “I have no margins in my business. I just make a lot of money, Mr Masiyiwa.”
“Okay. What sort of markup do you put on your product?” I pressed.
“Oh, I see. Yes. I buy each item for $200 each, and I just put a small markup of only 20%, and sell each one for $400. I don’t like to cheat anyone, you see.”
… I see!
This is not so bad, because judging by his dress, he was clearly getting by on his small margin of 20%! Jokes aside, people like him will crash one day, and will never be able to figure out what happened!
It’s gets worse when the people who are “innumerate” (the numbers equivalent of “illiterate’) are in positions of power and authority. We have MPs, and sometimes even ministers, who cannot tell you anything meaningful on their economy using “universally recognized data points.” This is extraordinarily dangerous for a country.
And even when you are given “numbers,” sometimes they are just plucked out of thin air, often as unreal as someone saying “Ghana beat Nigeria 20-0 in a soccer match!” Even my grandmother who never went to soccer matches would have told you it’s not possible, even though my Ghanaian friends would settle for 2-0!
__Let’s talk numbers, and let’s talk numbers that show numeracy, even as we speak in perfect English, French or even Afrikaans!
We need numeracy in our education and public discourse. The media is one of the worst culprits. Unless they’re giving football scores, much of what we see in numbers (particularly on the economy) in our press is “numero-ignorance,” and we cannot afford to laugh anymore because it hurts us in a world of “big data” and the “March of the Robots” into the lives of our children.
Turn to someone and say loudly: “Neighbor, the times they are a-changin’!”
Now here are some simple numbers you need to know:
# How many qualified maths teachers does your child’s school have?
# And your country?
Start thinking about it TODAY, because it could be more important than how much oil (or shall I now say, lithium) you have in the ground!
Now you see why a revolution in Mathematics teaching (or shall I say Maths and Science) is a Top 10 must-do for Africa NOW!