Oshikoto region dominated the second Namibia Mathematics Olympiad (NMO), scooping the top region and top two performers’ awards. Overall male winner Lazarus Shiyelekeni said he was inspired by his math teacher in the lower grades, who was passionate and hardworking and taught them in such a way that they could easily understand.
The 11th grader at Onguti Senior Secondary School said his dream was to be an electrical engineer but feels the field is no longer in demand and therefore gravitated toward geology.
“My field that I wanted is no longer in demand. I am going for geology now; there is more I can do with that qualification, compared to electrical engineering,” stated the 17-year-old.
Shiyelekeni is also part of the winning team with Iipinge William from the Oshilulu Community School and Barros Mussa (Heroes Private School).
Ester Nuuyoma, the overall female best mathematician, said she grew up thinking maths was a difficult subject and had no other way but to grow to love it because it is needed everywhere in life.
“My father would always push me to develop that love for maths. That was the first step – the need to develop a love for something – and that’s how I managed to excel in it. My father further introduced me to math quizzes, which motivated me further,” recalled Nuuyoma, who is also an 11th grader at the same school.
She said learners need to acknowledge their teachers, adding she was fortunate to have one who taught maths, and never made it boring and too formal, “almost like teaching maths in a comedic way; we loved that, and that’s how we were always looking forward to his class”.
The 17-year-old aspires to become a psychologist and urged her fellow young Namibians to put extra effort in all they do, adding that extra effort always yields good results – and “let’s not forget about developing the love for something; it that makes things easier”.
The NMO was organised by the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology as one of the steps toward realising Vision 2030 goal of transforming Namibia into a knowledge-based economy.
The awards ceremony was held in Windhoek recently to reward the country’s brightest mathematics learners from various high schools after the competition that was set up to test their non-routine mathematical problem-solving abilities.
The best performing learners (female and male) both received N$1 000, a laptop, trophy and a framed certificate, while the top 10 performers each received N$500 and a framed certificate.
The Onguti winning team received N$1 000 in mathematics equipment and a framed certificate; the runners-up team received N$500.
Oshikoto’s four participating schools: Tsumeb Secondary School, Oshilulu Community School, Onguti Secondary School and Heroes Private School all received N$10 000 worth of Mathematics and Science equipment.
The runner-up region received N$4 000.
Learners from all 14 regions participated in this competition.
The purpose of NMO is to promote mathematics and popularise science, technology and innovation among learners, teachers, educators and the public.
“Mathematics is a fundamental part of human thought and logic, and it is integral to attempts at understanding the world and ourselves. It provides an effective way of building mental discipline, and encourages logical reasoning and mental rigour,” said deputy education ministry executive director Edda Bohn.
Higher education minister Anna Nghipondoka said the government has recognised the pivotal role mathematics plays in everyday life.
“Participating learners are more likely to develop higher-order thinking skills because of the analytical and engaging nature of the problems they are exposed to. Apart from that, it also provides them with the necessary skills for the future of production in the fourth industrial revolution,” she stated.