There is a need for greater understanding of Mathematics not only in Barbados but the region, as a whole.
This was a key message underscored by Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, as he launched uwitube.com today at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus.
A collaborative effort between UWI, the Ministry of Education and a number of sponsors, the web resource was initiated with a focus first on Mathematics and a commitment to bringing more subjects on board, at a later date.
Jones, in commenting on the island’s efforts at Mathematics said: “When one looks at the rejection, (maybe 90 per cent) of our population have [said] in their response to Mathematics, ‘Ah that is hard!’ [and as a result] they shut down. A clever teacher might be able to pull a few into the midst and then they grow as a result of what you do and how you do it and how you get them to appreciate Mathematics.”
Commending the university and the Media Resource Department of his ministry on the development of the new website, he added: “What you are doing here is important for our space — the Caribbean space, the Barbadian space — to bring our children into the recognition of the value of Mathematics in their lives…
“There we are linking technology, the Mathematical products of our mind mixed with the electronics and craftsmanship, [and] all the people we’ve pulled together to produce this [web resource]. What we are doing here is humanising people, making them able to help in the positive development of the world. And that is what we want a lot more of, where our minds can be shaped and our energies directed.”
Noting that the Mathematics teachers held that responsibility, Jones said his ministry wanted to see “more of the technology being used for pedagogy — the teaching and learning environment”.
Alluded to the “good work” being done by the MRD in the area of animation and software development, Jones pointed out that it was at a substantial cost to them with some things being outsourced, while others were done internally “to help in the delivery of educational products in the various disciplines”.
He, therefore, stressed the importance of collaboration, noting that it was necessary for achieving progress in education where students would benefit from better learning techniques and improved quality and excellence in education.
Commending the new web resource to all across the region, Jones said: “It is through these kinds of efforts that we should be able to change that picture, using technology, having persons do the video, get the demonstrations, students then duplicate and practise, [and] make that transition from what they see on the page to what they see on a video. To know that the voice is familiar, is absolutely important”.
He also expressed the hope that teachers would work systematically to have their work on www.uwi.tube, noting that it was a good opportunity to make the education space here in Barbados and the wider Caribbean better for all of us.
Meanwhile, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Studies, Dr. Janak Sodha, said the new website should be seen as “an umbrella that begins to open in Barbados and reaches across the region” to the other universities and further afield.
He said: “We have the capability to take experiences of teachers in Barbados and across the Caribbean and put them online for the benefit of all students in the Caribbean.”