Children who performed exceptionally well in the recently concluded national TV competition organised by the Universal Concept of Mental Arithmetic System (UCMAS) have been rewarded. Writes Mary Nnah
UCMAS is a globally established mental mathematics programme for children between the ages of 5 and 13, using Abacus for improving the mathematics skills and brain capabilities of children.
The award ceremony which took place in Lagos last week had no fewer than 27 children being rewarded with various categories of prizes.
The overall winner went home with N500, 000 while the 1st and 2nd runner up got N300, 000 and N200, 000 respectively.
Country Manager, UCMAS Education Nigeria Limited, Stephen Ofori, said that the children rewarded emerged from the 2,700 children who participated in an audition for the national TV competition across Nigeria from which 27 children qualified for the TV show.
The award event held recently was to reward these 27 children that participated in the show; from these 27, emerged the three exceptional winners who have rewarded cash prizes plus other incentives while 17 children each got an educational investment of 50,000. Out of the 27, nine children from the semifinalist got 100,000 each while three finalists got 2nd runner up of 200,000 educational investment plus a cash prize of 200,000. 1st runner up got 300,000 educational investments plus a 300,000 cash prize. The grand winner-500,000 educational investment plus 500,000 cash price, all courtesy of the brand sponsor Indomie and Cowrywise.
Speaking on the success of the programme in Nigeria, the Country Manager, UCMAS Education Nigeria Limited, Stephen Amoako Ofori, said, “For the past seven years that we have operated in Nigeria, we have seen an outstanding jump in numbers. Currently, we have over 5,000 children that we are working with and I believe more parents are buying into the Mental Arithmetic that can champion the growth of their children’s mental ability to enhance their education particularly.”
On solutions that Mental Arithmetic brings to challenges, he said, “Arithmetic is just addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. All these form the bedrock of every mathematical function. It has a dependence on every other subject as well. Even if you want to read the English language at the university; Mathematics is required at some point. So we try to merge all the concepts and abilities that children are comfortable with and then we get the professional to train them on these concepts in their academics, which at the end they find it beneficiary in every other subject.”
He said the benefits derived from Mental Arithmetic included, enhanced photographic and memory skills, great listening skills, enhanced concentration, excellent presentation skills, good imagination and creativity, speed and accuracy, fantastic arithmetic skills and all-round academic proficiency, adding that these were attributes that can be depended on in the nation’s education system.
He mentioned that Cowrywise and Indomie have been very supportive of UCMAS’s dream to push the brand forward, adding, “What you are seeing here today is because of their partnerships and sponsorships.
Speaking on the impact of the awards on the children, Ofori said, rewarding children have a very deep connection to their confidence. “If a child gets a reward certificate on an event they have been able to achieve, it improves their confidence, which is part of the learning process that we try to imbibe in the children”, he said, adding that, more awards were still coming.
Ofori revealed that more awards were still coming later in other competitions and events in that we would be engaging more children,.
“As we are talking now, we are preparing to have the biggest private-sector competition which is hosting close to 1,500 children in Lagos, adding that, UCMAS’s dream and aspiration were clearly to make sure that children have the joy to experience the rewarding effects in every other learning ability that they get themselves involved with.
Speaking during the event, Senior Special Assistant on Education to the Governor of Lagos State, Ms Adetola Salau, said UCMAS was a programme that every child should be encouraged to take part in.
“I was so impressed and happy that children this age are being encouraged and rewarded to participate in a programme like this.
She, therefore, encouraged stakeholders in the education sector to incorporate UCMAS into their academic programmes to ensure the realisation of a generation of geniuses for the nation.
“Mental Arithmetic is something that we should incorporate and Lagos State is opened to talk about collaboration and partnership with organisations that are doing things like this”, she said, noting that there were so many benefits in Mental Arithmetic.
“When you are writing exams, you are faster in calculating, and of course, it is good for the brain.
“Mathematics is a language that is critical to society and that we all need to use in all aspects of our lives because it transverse all other spheres of life.
Calling on parents to encourage their children to develop an interest in Mathematics, she said, “Parents are their children’s first teachers, so I will always encourage parents to always look for teachable moments when they can teach their children by asking them things that have to do with numbers and calculations, this way, you start making them think. The key thing we want is for our children to be critical thinkers and become critical thinkers. This is a key skill, for now, we want them critical thinkers and to be able to solve challenges and the only way they can do that is by being critical thinkers, so we want parents to encourage them by seeing patterns and opportunities around them and teach them to always identify these things around them.”
Expressing gratitude the organisations like UCMAS for organising programmes of this nature, and beyond that, rewarding them, and this will encourage them to do more.
She revealed that her organisation has been doing a lot of work to make sure that we build the capacity of our teachers.
CEO Gemseed Children Academy, Gbagada Mary Ohagwasi, said the UCMAS concept is a whole-brain development programme, adding, “. I have worked with them for five years and I have seen visible changes in the lives of the children, especially in the area of gadget substitution.”
“Children are addicted to gadgets and this is a way to help them demystify the fear of Mathematics, which has been a problem for our generation. Now, our children feel at home with numbers and you could see that there is hope for technology in Nigeria with this kind of children coming up. They are comfortable and feel at peace with numbers. So, there is hope for our country, especially in the area of technology. This will help our children to lay a solid foundation for their tomorrow, so I am saying that UCMAS is for schools that are forward-looking. This is a concept that any school that is forward-looking should adopt”, Ohagwasi said.
She said however that the reception to this arithmetic solution has been gradual.
“Gradually it is taking its place and that is the beautiful thing about the television show they had earlier and a lot of parents saw it and many of these parents are coming up, so it is a gradual process, it may not happen overnight but gradually in the next five years, I see this programme being a revolution in the education sector in Nigeria if we go on this way.
A parent, Mrs Nnamdi Beta, said, “I actually have three children ding the UCMAS and it has been awesome. Prior to the UCMAS participation, their mathematics performances were not just as speedy as they are today. With UCMAS, I must tell you that the metal stability and alertness are amazing. You can see them calculating without looking for any calculation. And one thing I like about UCMAS is that it inculcates fun in Mathematics. Usually, I will tell you that I personally couldn’t study sciences because of Mathematics. During secondary school, my Maths teacher will come to class and I will jump through the window. It was because of the nature that we handled Mathematics then, that made it scary but with UCMAS, you find out that these children are always looking forward to UCMAS today because it is fun. It makes their mental alertness stable because they are not going to look for paper and biros or calculators to start calculating.
I will actually encourage parents to help put their children in this class so that we won’t in the end raise children that will grow up to be dullards. Mathematics is in everything, even when you are cooking soup, Mathematics is in it.
While encouraging parents to put their children in the UCMAS programme and watch them grow, Customer Experience Lead at Cowrywise¸ Basirat Adebiyi, said Mathematics is very important in every sphere of life and that UCMAS is currently empowering children in that regard.