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6 January 2016

Maths experts from Wales support Africa’s future scientists

 Cardiff University’s School of Mathematics is working with the University of Namibia (UNAM) to offer a two-week ‘summer school' to 120 UNAM students, who will attend the pilot course as part of an induction before starting their degrees.

Most science degree students at the University of Namibia (UNAM) must pass a mathematics qualification in their first year, but a lack of the required maths skills and knowledge has led to many failing to complete their courses.

The intensive course, which takes place in January, which is summer in Namibia, is part of Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project, an engagement project which works with UNAM on a range of activities involving education, health and science. It is hoped the summer school will leave students better prepared for the mathematics section of their courses and help reduce drop-out rates.

Dr Rob Wilson, Director of Learning and Teaching at Cardiff University’s School of Mathematics, said: “The aim is to provide a refresher in essential mathematical topics but also to try to increase confidence and reduce the maths anxiety that some students may have…we’re trying to get students to work together and discuss ideas to help develop their knowledge and confidence.”

Dr Martin Mugochi, head of mathematics at UNAM, said the programme was intended to “encourage incoming new students taking mathematics courses to engage with mathematical ideas and concepts, to increase their confidence in relation to mathematics, and to reinforce their mathematics foundation”.

Two staff and two postgraduate students from Cardiff’s School of Mathematics will work alongside UNAM mathematics staff.  Dr Wilson said the project was not only a wonderful learning experience for the two Cardiff postgraduate students involved, but also for himself and his School of Mathematics colleague Dr Vincent Knight.

The collaboration between the Universities supports the work of the Wales for Africa programme and helps deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals.