Summer school to help math students


An intensive mathematics school to tackle high dropout rates among potential scientists in Namibia is expanding following a successful pilot jointly run last year by Cardiff University and the University of Namibia (Unam).
Science degree students at Unam must pass mathematics modules, but a lack of the required maths skills has led to many failing to complete their courses.

Cardiff University communications and marketing officer Kevin Leonard in a statement said around 70 Unam students took part in the maths summer school in 2016 organised by Cardiff University and Unam to improve their skills, knowledge and confidence.

He said the pilot proved a success, so a second maths school will run as of next week (January 11-20) with up to 120 students expected to attend. The intensive course is part of Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project, an engagement project that works with Unam on a range of activities involving education, health and science.

Dr Rob Wilson, who is Dean of Education Innovation at Cardiff University and part of the School of Mathematics, said last year’s pilot was very well received by both students and the university, which is why they wanted to extend the programme this year.

“We’re planning for 120 students this year, so that we can extend the reach as much as possible. We want to build the confidence of the students as well as refreshing practical mathematics ideas,” he noted. It is hoped the summer school, held at Unam’s main campus, will become a regular event at Unam.

Dr Wilson will travel to Namibia with his colleague, Dr Vince Knight, and four postgraduate students to run the summer school alongside Unam staff, including Unam head of mathematics Dr Martin Mugochi.

Dr Mugochi said the Department of Mathematics at Unam is pleased with the strong partnership forged with the School of Mathematics at Cardiff University through the efforts of Dr Wilson, Dr Knight, Phoenix Project lead Prof Judith Hall and others.

The university launched the first mathematics summer school in January 2016 targeted at attitude improvement and innovative practices in teaching first-year mathematics. Cardiff University hope to spread the net wider in the near future to include mathematics students and colleagues from the Unam centres and campuses across Namibia.

The Phoenix Project, which supports the Welsh government’s Wales for Africa programme, is a mutually beneficial collaboration between Cardiff University and Unam. The project covers three broad areas, namely women, children and infectious diseases; science, and communication. It is one of Cardiff University’s flagship engagement projects, otherwise known as the Transforming Communities programme, which work with communities in Cardiff, Wales and beyond in areas of health, education and wellbeing.

January 2017
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