14 September 2020 Partnerships for development

Gulbenkian Campus of Mathematics

Despite the inherent limitations posed by Covid-19, the Gulbenkian Campus of Mathematics are again taking place between 31 August and 11 September in Sao Tome and Principe.

© DR
Gulbenkian Campus of Mathematics in Sao Tome and Principe

Due to the prevailing pandemic, this second edition of the Gulbenkian Campus of Mathematics sees the participation of 30 students in the 11th grade of education – those who had been selected for the 2019 edition and maintained a minimum classification equivalent to Good throughout the academic year – due to the impossibility of accepting new students in the current context.

The initiative, launched in 2019 with the objective of nurturing the interest of young persons in mathematics and helping them to maximise their potential, has been adapted to the restrictions in effect and correspondingly taking place in a mixed model – in person, in two classrooms in the University of Sao Tome and Principe and via distance learning, through recourse to the new ICTs.

“On the one hand, we have students learning about mathematics and, simultaneously learning to apply the ICT tools while, on the other hand, their teachers are dealing with these new teaching technologies at a time when distance learning is become part of the national reality”, explained Ilvécio Ramos, one of the Sao Tomeans responsible for the Campus.

Irrespective of the circumstances, “the Campus trigger the interest of students in mathematics and has provided them with opportunities that they would not otherwise get. They have ‘breathed air’ into mathematics and the satisfaction expressed during the session is palpable”, he affirmed before furthermore highlighting how “the wave” generated by the Campus is not limited to the students who participate: “they are then able to get their colleagues interested.”

The Campus, that develop educational activities within the scope of stimulating interest in mathematics and fostering self-learning and the individual development of the capacities of each students, this year receives an additional component: during the period classes were suspended due to the pandemic, participants received weekly support– at a distance through the Zoom platform from teachers belonging to the Portuguese and Sao Tomean Mathematics Societies.

“Sao Tome and Principe still faces many shortages of teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry and other areas that require a good mathematical base. With this initiative, involving the teachers and exchanging experiences, we’re getting ‘formulas’ for how to mitigate the prevailing displacement,” emphasised Ilvécio Ramos.

According to the Sao Tome and Principe Minister of Education and University Teaching, Julieta Rodrigues, present at the closing session of the Campus, national development will only advance through investing in the scientific and technological areas and deems mathematics to be “the most important science in modern teaching.”

The Campus of Mathematics are an initiative run by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in partnership with the Sao Tome and Principe Ministry of Education and University Teaching and counts upon the scientific and pedagogic support of the Portuguese and Sao Tomean Mathematics Societies. This also extends to the involvement of local teachers through establishing a study group for this subject and extended support for students. Through this initiative, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation aims to strengthen the quality of mathematics education in the PALOPs – Portuguese Speaking African Countries.