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The Birth of Uganda Mathematical Society

By 1964, Makerere University was the only institution of higher learning that trained secondary school teachers. This included both graduates and non-graduates.

In 1965, the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Education embarked on training grade IV secondary school teachers.

They were to cater for the rising demand for teachers in secondary schools that were opening up in various parts of the country.

Recruitment included students who had completed A-level for a 2 year course duration and students from O-level 3 year course duration. Both lead to the award of a Makerere University Diploma in Education.

However after graduating with a diploma in Education teachers of mathematics expressed need to constantly meet in a forum whereby;

  • Ways of handling mathematical topics of various magnitudes were discussed
  • Practical approaches of teaching the mathematics
  • Students in NTC were to be inspired
  • Quizzes, contests and puzzles were to be organized.

Further to this most of the teachers in the secondary schools in Uganda were expatriates mainly from the United Kingdom.

With this in the background, meeting of this nature started. They were organized fortnightly at either Makerere College School or the School of Education. Participants came from schools in and around Kampala e.g Agha Khan, Kings college Buddo, Gayaza High school, Kyambogo college school to mention but a few. By 1969 these fortnightly interactions of mathematics teachers started. Eventually, we came up with a name for proper coordination and communication The Uganda Mathematics Ring.It is important to note that whenever we met, we sat in a circle hence the name RING.

These interactions made tremendous improvement in the teaching of mathematics. Whenever we came up with new ideas, we communicated to the rest of the teachers upcountry, who could not make it to Kampala every two weeks.

We came up with some of the following ideas;

  • Organize quizzes for both teachers and students
  • Organize contests
  • Write a magazine which finally turned out to be Uganda Mathematical Society Bulletin.
  • Interactions between schools on various mathematical aspects to involve teachers and students.

While the Uganda Mathematics Ring activities progressed, more ideas too developed.

Proposals were made to organize mathematics contests at different levels. It was easier to start with primary and O-level. This was later extended to A-level, PTC, NTC and University.

In 1972, Uganda Mathematical Society (UMS) evolved from Uganda Mathematics Ring. Uganda Mathematical society sprang up and opened its borders to all walks of life in the Education sector from being predominantly a teacher’s affair. We went a mile further to involve our counter part- teachers of mathematics in Kenya with the purpose of organizing an East African Mathematics Olympiad but we did not go far.

However the original teachers oriented get together affair assist teachers in their professional and academic status has been over driven by pupils/students activities.

UMS has now a challenge to more often than not, bring teachers together and share experiences in their profession.

The once a year teachers conference is not adequate, though it is better than nothing. But remember we used to meet every two weeks! What is the way forward?

UMS recognizes the efforts of the founders of Uganda Mathematics ring (UMR) e.g Brian Wilson-Budo, John Dorset-NTC Kyambogo, Mrs.Harbottle-School of Education, Mr.M.M Magino-Kyambogo College School, David Muwanga-Kings College Budo, and Colin Davis-Kings College Budo. These were very instrumental in shaping UMS

In the 1972 period, Late Theresa Nanziri, Late Watulasu, Prof.Luboobi, Prof. Mugambi, Daniel M.Kiggundu, Late Abdu Kayizzi, Prof Patrick Mangheni and many others joined the cause.

In 1984 due to unstable political conditions in the country, the UMS activities completely collapsed. It was not until 1990 that we again got together to revive UMS activities. UMS changed the head quarter to Kyambogo for nearly 10 years

UMS has survived all the years because those involved in it have love for mathematics and therefore must work hard to make it survive.

I hope we choose the next executive whose composition will be people who have the subject at heart and are trustworthy

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • 1.Revive weekend interactions for teachers of mathematics i.e. every two weeks. Logistics could be worked out for the different levels of teachers.
  • Encourage research so that researchers present papers on very useful topics
  • Updates on recent developments in Education and the computer world.
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