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These stories were researched with help from Explore & Study: Bio-Mech. The subject of math is not always part of intriguing news stories, but several ventures in mathematics education are taking place in the Philippines. Some extremely hard-working students are earning scholarships thanks to their proficiency with math and the latest software. As well, some organizations such as the Institute of Mathematics give students comprehensive groundwork in advanced math concepts as well as the opportunities to excel in competitions. Filipino math students have taken top honors at college-level contests in the past, and similar results are expected in the future.
The Institute of Mathematics
A good amount of success in math education in the Philippines comes from emphasis on research and refinement of teaching methods. The institute of Mathematics is among the most respected organizations in this regard. Formerly the mathematics department at the University of the Philippines, it has now grown to over 100 full time professors and a high number of enrollees. The institute has been distinguished by the Philippine Commission on Higher Education as a Center of Excellence.
The 2013 International Mathematics and Assessment for Schools
A team of advanced mathletes from the Philippines recently took top honors at this challenging math competition. Due to fast calculations and good strategy, the group won several rounds and garnered international attention among the higher education community. A total of 106 participants took home high distinction certificates in math. The 2014 mathlete team is expected to achieve similar excellent results.
The Mathematics Trainers’ Guild of the Philippines
This organization is another example of dedication to excellent mathematics education in the Philippines. The non-profit guild focuses on developing and promoting the best quality math pedagogy. It provides resources and support to aspiring mathematics educators as well as holding seminars for current instructors on a regular basis. The guild also operates under the principle that continued innovation and practical applications are keys to success in this subject area. Among other events throughout each year, the Mathematics Trainers’ Guild of the Philippines recently sponsored the International Sudoku Challenge in Bangkok, Thailand. At this contest, a Filipino student finished in third place.
Understanding the History of Math in the Philippines
The emphasis on math scholarships and education in the Philippines is largely a response to low international test scores back in 2003. At that time, the average student was ranked 41st out of 45th in mathematical literacy. A shortage of qualified instructors only added to the problem, and efforts in the past decade have come from organizations both within and outside of the school system. An emphasis on visual models, formula applications and class discussions has helped to improve student math performance from one school year to the next.
Math and science education are given top priorities in the Philippines because the prevailing belief is that scientists and engineers are vital to advancing the country technologically further into the 21st century. Classroom techniques have been successful at engaging students’ interest and demonstrating to them how the material applies in various situations. Other effective approaches skip the rote memorization of formulas and instead give students visual roadmaps to help them discover common mathematical patterns.
The efforts to improve math education in the Philippines have gained the country international attention for the excellent performance results that have happened over the past decade. Other nations’ school systems are now modeling their new math education efforts on those of the Philippines. With work and persistence, other countries may soon see the same kinds of jumps in mathematics achievement.
Here are two facts to ponder: ours is a world driven by software & technology, and the science of numbers is universal. In the United States, children are learning CORE math to reach consistent educational standards and in the Philippines, children are learning Sakamoto Math to master word problem solving.
Sakamoto Math is an effective method of math introduced in Singapore. This is an elite form of schooling and teachers must be accredited in order to teach this particular scope of math. This type of education training can be web-based and used to assist the student with obtaining scholarships.
The Sakamoto Math Method is designed to break down a math problem into a visual formula. There are three basic steps:
- Analyze the Data
- Translate Facts/Reduce
- Solve Problem
First and foremost, children are taught to find the basic facts in a word problem. By gathering pertinent data students are able to organize the information into a formula. Next, a diagram is created with the information extracted from the first step. Lastly, students calculate their equations to solve the word problem.
The Sakamoto Math Method teaches students to simplify a problem in order to arrive at a solution. The type of math teaches the brain how to process information in the act of problem solving. Sakamoto Math is an effective method of math introduced in Singapore. This is an elite form of schooling and teachers must be accredited in order to teach this particular type of math.
In the Sakamoto Math Method, students are taught to break down an influx of information and reduce data into minimal facts so that a solution can be easily determined. These skills are relevant in life; extract the necessary information from a given problem in order to quickly find a solution. Students are taught to develop reading comprehension, understanding, and creativity. All of these skills will benefit the student when it comes time to apply for scholarships for higher education.
One particular student in the Philippines recently displayed her superior math aptitude by earning a perfect score in the Hypatia Contest. Kelsey Lim Tiong Soon In her fourth year at Grace Christian College, took the lead with her perfect score and did not disappoint her expectant fans. This match challenge is hosted by the math department at Canada’s University of Waterloo.
Fifteen year old Lim Tiong Soon also scored high in her division with a perfect score of 40/40. She shared this score with six fellow competitors from China.
With the Filipino team boasting the best average score in the Hypatia Contest, the Philippines rank first among several participating countries. This is a proud achievement for 2014 in addition to the results of the Fryer Contest.
At the Fryer Contest, three Filipino participants scored one point shy of perfection, ranking second behind first place winners from Troy, Michigan.
Math contests are exciting and the Philippines are proving that they are well educated and capable in the world of mathematics. The Philippines Mathematics Trainers Guild (MTG) is responsible for producing opportunities for students nationwide.
The MTG is a non-profit organization comprised of math teachers dedicated to building excellence for students as they learn mathematics. This organization began in 1995 and members were from private schools. Today, MTG is open to both private and public schools. The primary goal of MTG is to meet international standards; to enhance the learning environment to include proper disciplines of math that promotes science and technology.
The logic of mathematics is concrete and universal. Across the globe, numbers are understood in all languages. In the Philippines, it is evident that true masters are being creating in the world of math. Contest winners display the math prowess among other countries. Is there something in particular that is being done differently across this nation? Is it the implementation of Sakamoto Math or the MTG organization behind promoting excellence in math education?