- Published on Tuesday, 18 September 2012 00:30
- Written by correspondent BENIEL SEKA
- Hits: 1794
The Mathematical Association of Tanzania (MAT/CHAHITA) holds its annual general meeting in September every year. This year the activity is being conducted at the Makumira University College, in Arusha region from 17th September to 22nd September 2012.
Formed in 1966 at the University College, Dar es Salaam, the Mathematical Association of Tanzania members have been noted that many people do not know its existence. During one live broadcast aired by TBC Taifa two years ago on problems facing mathematics in Tanzania, a listener through a phone suggested that a solution could be obtained by forming a mathematical association.
Our dear listener did not know there was such association that was more than forty five years old. The problem is that the association is not known outside the education system. Worst still, even some educators do not know it. Efforts to publicise it have not been very successful.
This association is not for mathematicians only, but also for anybody interested in promoting mathematics improvement in Tanzania. According to article 2 of its constitution, the objectives of the association are to:
. Effect improvement in mathematics education
. Provide means of communication for this purpose, and
. Take such measures as may appear expedient to advance the views of the association any question affecting mathematics education.
Membership of the Association is divided into three categories, namely, ordinary members, student members and institutional members. It is worth noting that anyone receiving full time education at a recognized educational institution is eligible for student membership. Membership may be obtained by filling forms of application obtained from MAT/CHAHITA offices and paying the entry fee. Thereafter the eligible member will be required to pay annual subscription fee.
The Mathematical Association conducts seminars both zonally and nationally on topics which teachers find difficult to teach. The national seminar this year includes ‘Jometri’, ‘Aljebra’ and ‘Sehemu’ for Primary level; Vectors, Accounts and Circles for Ordinary level Secondary; Probability, Conic Sections and Algebra for Advanced Secondary level. There are also general topics including mathematics Entertainments Industries, Simple ways of Teaching Mathematics and Competence Based Teaching in Mathematics. The meeting will also deliver the normal lecture of the year from an eminent person.
The Annual General Meeting at Makumira (47th since it was started), is scheduled to be opened by the Deputy Minister for Education in the Prime Minister’s Office, Honourable Kassim Majaliwa (MP). The Deputy Minister knows MAT/CHAHITA and was a guest of honour at the Pi- Day celebration on Mach 14 at Jangwani Secondary School.
The association has gone through hurdles, but it has survived because of the commitment of its leaders. The national seminar and general meeting are being held this week when the issue of poor performance in mathematics is still the top agenda. In 2008, during the budget parliamentary session the Prime Minister, Honourable Mizengo Pinda (MP) expressed concern about the low performance of mathematics and science in National Examinations. Much has been said but very little has been implemented.
Some people think that MAT/CHAHITA is a donor agency. Actually it is a nongovernmental organization with no donor agency. This has been noted by the number of interested teachers who apply for sponsorship from MAT/CHAHITA to attend the seminars. The truth is MAT/CHAHITA appeals to various Government and Non-Governmental organizations to sponsor individuals either directly or through the association.
Other people think that the Association is capable of solving all the problems associated with learning and teaching mathematics. In fact the association helps in promoting and encouraging pupils to learn and teachers to teach better. The success depends on the learners and teachers.
For example, if a teacher attends a seminar and fails to deliver the same to his/her colleagues or pupils, the MAT/CHAHITA effort is doomed to be futile. In this case, MAT/CHAHITA is an agent of change and requires support and sustained commitment.
There was a time when the Mathematical Association of Tanzania used the same acronym MAT with the Medical Association of Tanzania. The latter was more known to the public and this made the Mathematical Association of Tanzania change its denomination to MAT/CHAHITA where CHAHITA stands for ‘Chama cha Hisabati Tanzania’.
Some people have not been informed about what MAT/CHAHITA has succeeded in solving the pertinent problems which are inherent in mathematics. MAT/CHAHITA has been conducting seminars and exhibitions during the annual meetings. Participants leave the meeting with a number of hand outs to share with their colleagues at home.
Participants also get the opportunity to access or even buy some of the books and booklets published by the association. The association has also been conducting competitions among students to help them in raising their academic competence. The association has, to some extent, tried to reach teachers within their zone.
For example, in 1991 it managed to conduct zonal seminars after receiving some funding from an English organization called the Harold Macmillan Trust.The misconception that MAT/CHAHITA is not for primary schools is yet to be removed from people’s minds. During registration for seminar, participants indicate their group levels.
Three categories are involved: Primary level, Secondary Ordinary level and Advanced level. By statistics, ordinary level register the highest number, followed by Advanced level and lowest (if any) by the primary group. The registration has also shown that private schools register more participants than Government schools.
This may imply that private schools need the seminars more than the government schools. This is not entirely true since the problem exists in both the government and private schools.There has been an attempt by MAT/CHAHITA to involve primary school teachers in the seminar but sometimes it has been a futile exercise.
MAT/CHAHITA believes that if a firm background in mathematics is established, success will be achieved. There have been some lame excuses that during the AGM many teachers are involved in supervising the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and cannot attend. This year, the exams have been planned to be supervised by heads of secondary schools, their assistants, and academic masters.
In order to attend the meeting, each participant pays a registration fee of TSH 6000 to carter for refreshments (tea, soda and bites), hand-outs and contribution to hall and seminar room fees.It is assumed that many teachers around the venue will be able to attend because they will only pay the participation. We appeal to the District Education Officers for Arusha City to send as many teachers as possible to the conference.
In the end, these teachers will be used as experts in other seminars. This appeal applies also to heads of schools as well as institutions. This is part of capacity building for your teachers. Don’t miss the opportunity. The Mathematical Association needs your assistance. It can be done. Play your part.