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Search for 50 top mathematicians kicks off 

The process of identifying the 50 mathematics champions who will compete in the national level (level three) of the Kenya Mathematical Olympiad 2023 contest kicked off on Saturday in 22 counties in the country.

The Centre for Mathematics Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) is seeking to select the 50 secondary school students from a pool of 762 students countrywide who will participate in the third round of the competition in September this year in Nairobi.

In Nyeri,15 participants from the two qualifying schools namely Nyeri High school and Othaya boys battled it out at the Nyeri high school which acted as the CEMASTEA regional centre for the second round of the contest.

During the competition, students tackled 20 numerical questions in two hours without using a calculator. All the 15 students will receive a certificate of participation whereas the top student from the centre will be awarded a certificate of merit.

According to Robert Muriithi, a mathematics and physics teacher at Nyeri high school, the host institution is hoping to post better performance this year. Muriithi said that in 2022, the school ranked position three nationally and they are looking forward to having their students proceed to the regional and international stages on the annual contest.

“We are expecting that from this round two at least 80 per cent of the participants will proceed to the third level which is the national level of the contest and even qualify for the regional and international rounds,” said Muriithi.

The competition is a joint partnership between CEMASTEA, the University of Nairobi and the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing of the Waterloo University in Canada.

The contest has been categorized into six rounds with the East Africa Mathematical Olympiad, the Pan African Mathematical Olympiad and the International Mathematical Olympiad being the highest levels.

During the first round which was held in May this year, 258 students from form 1 and 2 countrywide were selected in the junior category after attaining the 116 cutoff points in a 60 minutes’ mathematics examination. Another 504 form 3 and 4 students were selected in the senior category whose cutoff mark was 120 points.

CEMASTEA’s head of research and development Dr Karanja Mutitu said annual competition aims at improving performance and promoting excellence in Mathematics among high school students in the country.

He said that on the overall, the goal was to create a group of critical thinkers who are able to apply their classroom knowledge when solving real life problems.

“Generally, we are looking into the learners critical thinking and problem-solving skills. We give them questions that have real life application so that they can think mathematically,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we have a learner who doesn’t have a disconnect between the real world and what they are doing in the classroom,” added Dr Karanja.

By Wangari Mwangi and Kiama Wamutitu

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