In a bid to rekindle interest students’ interest in mathematics, the Universal Concept of Mental Arithmetic System (UCMAS), Nigeria recently held its first national competition tagged ‘The Battle of Brains’ in Lagos, which saw children in kindergarten and basic classes win trophies and cash prizes for themselves in keenly contested visual and mental arithmetic speed and accuracy test competition.
In a chat with journalists, the Country Head for UCMAS Nigeria, Mr Emmanuel Alade, said the programme was borne out of the discovery that children are erroneously being taught to depend on artificial aids in tackling academic challenges with its attendant negative impacts.
“People will tell you we are in the 21st century and everything is computer; forgetting that there are brains behind these computers. Computers were invented or manufactured through the human brain. Unfortunately when we go for interviews or exams we are not allowed to use computers. So we have to still go back and rely on our brains.”
He expressed optimism that UCMAS would transform children and their learning patterns leading to a more productive society.
“There is need for us to develop the brains of these children for them to become geniuses and that is what UCMAS is all about; developing the brains of children; talking about the left and then the right sides of their brains for them to become geniuses because Albert Einstein who is the father of modern day science has made it clear to us that for anybody to become a genius he must apply both the right side and the left sides of the brain: that is holistic brain development for the child or the person to become a genius.”
As part of the gains of the programme, Alade said the competition served the purpose of early exposure to the pupils, building in them the spirit of competition.
“What it means is that these children are going back to their schools with that kind of impact that there is competition everywhere in the world so I need to step up the game and do better.”
Some school owners who attended the event said the intervention of UCMAS was timely, as the programme was raising the interest of the pupils in arithmetic and studies in general. One of them, Mrs. Queenly Eluba said she was amazed at what her pupils who have been taking part in the programme are able to do with numbers with speed and accuracy.
UCMAS started in Malaysia in 1993, but was introduced in Nigeria two years ago. The system operates in 70 countries and has trained over one million children. In Nigeria, UCMAS operates in 30 schools in Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Kano, Edo and Abuja. There were about 110 competitors at different categories at the event from 11 schools.
The highpoint of the event was the presentation of medals, trophies and cash to the pupils who came out tops in each of the categories including Rebecca Ifeoluwa who will be joining over eight thousand children from other countries to represent UCMAS Nigeria at the 22nd UCMAS international competition in Malaysia from December 10-11, 2017.