Home > Miguel Iturria Savón, Translator: Regina Anavy > The Year of Mathematics

The Year of Mathematics

December 4, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

funiversidad-de-la-habana

With the closure of the Eleventh National Congress of Mathematics and Computer Science, held in Havana between November 18 and 20, came the end of the Year of Mathematics in Cuba, launched on October 31, 2008 to promote activities that attract people to this science, improve  enrollment and prepare young people to pursue this career in higher education.

The theoretical debates and educational issues affecting teacher recruitment of future mathematicians were at the center of the analysis, according to Dr. Luis Ramiro Piñeiro Díaz, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics, University of Havana and President of the Cuban Society of Mathematics and Computer Science, who told reporters of the need to elevate the image of the mathematician, encourage teachers and researchers and disseminate the importance of math among parents, children and adolescents.

According to the Dean, “Math makes things happier; you need it everywhere; it helps you do accounting, and calculates the speed of vehicles when crossing the street. Advanced math helps show real patterns; polls are an example.  If there is no math there can be no biotechnology. The best vaccine requires a statistical study of its effectiveness. ”

The academic pointed out that the Year of Mathematics included the Course on Numbers and figures in history, taught in an enjoyable way by the University television program for everyone, as well as work in upper secondary education to enhance the students’ approach to mathematics and other exact sciences like Physics, Chemistry and Biology, affected by the low number of graduates in the country’s higher centers of learning.

In order to reverse the situation, the Minister of Higher Education offered the eleventh-grade students the possibility to take entrance tests in these disciplines. Those selected are now completing their twelfth year in the universities, where they will be on the same track as those in the Pre-University Institutes for the Exact Sciences, in addition to having vocational orientation and taking laboratory classes.

The low number of graduates is palpable even in the faculties of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology at the University of Havana, where 10 or 15 were graduating every year. Actually, 125 students from the western provinces of the Isle of Youth are in the twelfth grade in the higher center of studies. Twenty-two of them graduated in Physics, 25 in Math, 28 in Chemistry, 30 in Biology and 20 in Physical Engineering.

To regain ground and show that the sciences are attractive, other preparation and instruction methods are being used that avoid the stigma of difficult subject matter. “It’s a question of learning to think and developing the capacity for analysis,” affirmed Luis R. Piñeiro, who added that in order to increase the number of alumni, the entrance system has been changed, and more rigorous requirements have been imposed that guarantee a vocation for future mathematicians.

The Year of Mathematics ended with the award of the prize “For Mathematics Education,” that brought together children and young people to express this science through drawings, poems and stories. In addition, they awarded the Pablo Miguel national prize (for outstanding research) and the Raimundo Reguera prize to professors with long-standing experience.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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