Mathematics is more than just numbers

Abdul Halim (second left) and Ang (grey shirt) checking the calculation skills of the pupils during the launching of the Japanese Math Classes at the Penang Yosakoi 2019 at the Esplanade in George Town, Penang. – Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

WHEN one thinks about Mathematics, it is always associated with numbers, but at Japanese Math Classes (JMC), one can expect to learn life lessons.

The free classes by Penang Math Platform are based on a highly successful programme adopted by primary schools in Japan where pupils learn fundamental and basic knowledge and skills regarding numbers, quantities and geometric figures through storytelling.

Launching the expansion of the JMC to include satellite classes at four constituencies in the state – Batu Maung, Pengkalan Kota, Prai and Bagan Dalam, at the Penang Yosakoi 2019, pupils displayed their understanding of the subject through fun stories.

Penang Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) chief executive officer Ang Lye Hin said the JMC was an interesting programme for young participants.

“Last year, the average attendance rate was 85%.

Volunteer teacher Safiza Che Ariff		 guiding a		  participant as he shares his		 story about mathematics.

Volunteer teacher Safiza Che Ariff guiding a  participant as he shares his story about mathematics.

“It shows that the kids are picking it up with a lot of interest,” he said at the launch of the new satellite classes during the Penang Yosakoi 2019 held at the Esplanade in George Town recently.

Consul-General of Japan Shinichiro Kanoya said he was grateful that Penang STEM chose Japan as a model country to follow its math teaching method.

“Japan is traditionally a strong country in the field of STEM, producing three Fields Medal winners and 27 Nobel Prize winners. Among them, 23 are winners in physics, physiology, medicine and chemistry,” he said.

The Fields Medal is a prize awarded to two, three or four mathematicians under 40.

Kanoya added that it was important to introduce children to new things.

“The Japanese Math method will help pupils learn social interactive skills while they learn and solve mathematic questions with their group of friends.

“Pupils are also able to learn math in a creative and fun way using props.

“I am certain this programme will spark their interest in this subject,” he said.

State Domestic and International Trade Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain, who was the guest of honour, said the state government would continue to support JMC and hoped all 40 constituencies in Penang would have their own JMC satellite classes in the near future.

“The programme, which was introduced last year, offers weekly free classes for children aged between six and seven, especially catering to underprivileged children.

“We now have about 200 students. We would like to see math being made an interesting, easy and fun subject.

“There is always this myth that math is a difficult subject so we want to change that mindset,” he said.


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