Professor Ernest Kofi Davis, Professor of Mathematics Education at the UCC, delivering his inaugural lecture
Professor Ernest Kofi Davis, Professor of Mathematics Education at the UCC, delivering his inaugural lecture

Maths curricula must be rooted in cultural context — Prof. Davis

A Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Professor Ernest Kofi Davis has suggested that mathematics curricula be rooted in the social and cultural contexts that students are familiar with to make teaching and learning easier.


Such curricula, he stated, must incorporate students’ values and ideals and socio-cultural norms to make the study of mathematics likeable. He said it was high time Ghana looked at the "local aspect of mathematics pedagogy and their implications for curriculum development and implementation."

Prof. Davis proposed that when he delivered his inaugural lecture on the theme "Socio-Cultural Issues: A missing ingredient in mathematics curriculum development and delivery in Ghana," last Thursday.

Prof. Davis, also the Provost of the College of Distance Education (CoDE) at the UCC, emphasised that doing this would help facilitate the development of student's mathematical competence in a more accessible manner.

He observed that the performance of Sub-Saharan students in mathematics had been reported as abysmally low.

Foreign concepts

He said this was a result of the adoption of foreign concepts in teaching mathematics in Sub-Saharan educational institutions. Prof. Davis explained that every culture generated the mathematics that suited its culture.

However, he noted that adopted Western and international teaching of Mathematics in Sub-Saharan Africa made it difficult for students to link those abstract mathematical concepts to their everyday realities.

"Mathematics is, therefore, often presented out of context to students, making it extremely difficult for them to link the abstract mathematical concepts they encounter in school to their everyday realities,” Prof. Davis said.

He said because of those foreign concepts, it had been difficult for primary schoolchildren in Saharan Africa including Ghana to link what they culturally know to what they are taught in the classroom.

The mathematics professor observed that the poor performance of primary school pupils in sub-Saharan Africa had also affected secondary school-level education. He explained that due to the poor performance in basic schools, it had become difficult for students to further their studies and professions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

"At the senior high school level, the performance of students from Sub-Saharan African countries and ethnic minorities in international comparative assessment in mathematics and science had also been consistently low.

"Literature suggests that every culture generates its mathematics that may not be the same as the Western or international mathematics," Prof. Davis added. Drawing from research, he urged Sub-Saharan African countries to pay attention to the mathematics of their culture. 

All have potential

Prof. Davis stated that every student had the potential to excel in mathematics, despite what others may believe and that their success largely depended on the unfavourable curricula they found themselves in.

He appealed for improved learning conditions to promote effective teaching.

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