By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The education sector specifically in Namibia but also globally faces constant challenges that influence all areas in the society. So said the governor of the Erongo Region, Samuel Nuuyoma, when he recently officially opened the three-day national Mathematics Congress at Swakopmund. Some 140 teachers, lecturers and senior officials in the Ministry of Education attended the 1st NAMST Mathematics Conference at the Namibi Secondary School at the coastal town. “As part of the national plan to make Namibia a knowledge-based self-sufficient and sustaining society, Vision 2030 paved the way for the Education Sector Improvement Plan, ETSIP. This sector-wide programme addresses issues such as early childhood development through to tertiary education as well as efficient management systems in education. Improving the sectors’ performance is vital to realise Vision 2030. Hence, such an initiative where, through public and private partnership, educators, specifically for mathematics, meet as a professional community, is much welcomed,” said Governor Nuuyoma. According to the Erongo governor mathematics underlines all activities, from simple arithmetic for household budgets to challenging computerised integration and differentiation for manipulation of machinery. “A thorough foundation, continuous practice and most of all demystification of the bad connotation and perception of the school subject mathematics are imperative to achieve the desired success. Studies and research have shown that by changing the atmosphere around the perception of mathematics in the classroom, greater success can be achieved,” he said. He urged teachers to listen to learners and try to follow their methods and thereby gain some insight into their understanding and their misconceptions. “We are aware of the weak performance in mathematics countrywide, in particular, if we look at the number of symbols above a D in Grade 12. Is this as a result of poor teaching at senior secondary level?” he asked. He also encouraged teachers to learn from each other and to take responsibility for making the classroom a place where learners can get excited about mathematics in making it the favourite subject in schools. “We need to make children realise that mathematics makes life easier. A person who knows mathematics can understand the complexities of taking out a bank loan, can estimate the time it takes to drive to another town, will budget his income/expenditure wisely, solve problems which need logical thinking, will realise when the builder charges him too much paint for a job. A person who knows mathematics will find it easier to get a job even as a carpenter, bricklayer or seamstress or to be admitted to university, the polytech or any technical college,” Nuuyoma told those present.