Mental arithmetic system should be part of school’s curriculum, says don

Former Director, National Mathematical Centre, Prof. Adewale Solarin has said the Abacus system of mental calculation will soon be introduced into the primary and secondary school curriculum pretty soon.

The Professor of Mathematics and Head, Education and ICT Directorate, Growth and Development Foundation (GDF), made this known last week during the closing ceremony for the two-hands system of Abacus Mental Arithmetic Training for secondary school teachers training in Remoland, Ogun state.



With its theme: Advancing the Education Landscape in Remoland, the event was organised by the Remo Growth and Development Foundation(GDF), in partnership with the International Academy for the Gifted Programs(IAGIFTED).

On the reason for introducing the Abacus system of mental calculation, Solarin said: “Actually, the origin of this in Nigeria or Africa dated to about 10 years ago or a little earlier, when the Chief Executive of the National mathematical center then, Professor Sam Allen; having seen the importance of this, invited some Asians to train some students and teachers at the centre. At that time I was the trainer of the Nigerian team for the international maths Olympia.

When we went for the Olympia, for two three years, I observed that the Asians were always leading, getting gold medals. They cleared all the gold medals.

“Then I did a further investigation and found out that that mental arithmetic they used during the competition, they started from age five and running through the basic education to age 15 and that’s why when I became the chief executive, I decided to train and develop the concept of the Nigerian version. So, everything you are seeing here is totally Nigerian except the Abacus.

And what these trainers achieve in two weeks is more than what the original trainers achieved in four weeks. In fact, when we gave them reports of this, they couldn’t believe it because they wanted us to have a franchise so that all the materials will be coming from them. We said no, because if we were to go with that, actually public school children would have not been able to be part of this. Only private schools would have been able to afford it. So, that’s why we developed the Nigerian concept and it’s fantastic.”

On how to get the Abacus he noted that the previous ones used had been imported adding that making it here in Nigeria would not be difficult for plastics companies in the country.

Continuing on the history of Abacus in Nigeria, he said “It started about ten years ago in Nigeria and since then we have been developing it. When I was Chief Executive of the National mathematical center, we actually ran this program in most of the states and right now I think National mathematical center, currently the Chief Executive is still pushing it further and now it is going into the curriculum so you would soon see it as part of the curriculum for mathematics from primary school to secondary schools all over Nigeria”, said Professor Solarin.

In the same vein, National Coordinator IAGIFTED, Oyebola Fabowale, lauded the initiative and the two weeks training program, he said “Over the years we have been having something like this. This two-week program is designed to bring up to speed these children when it comes to this mental arithmetic thing, just like if you have a recap to the olden days where you have this arithmetic multiplication table once you are asked a question you are asked to respond immediately”.

On the relevance of Abacus in the current educational curriculum, Fabowale said “It is relevant, relevance in the sense that it energizes the inner mind, the brain, the mental alertness is there then secondly, the children that tend to be docile, the seemingly lethargic ones you know they get themselves tuned to apt responses.”

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