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National Mathematics Day: Why fewer takers in higher education?

December 22, 2019

National Mathematics Day – celebrated every year on the birth anniversary of well-known Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan – marks his love for the subject. Although India has given birth to many mathematics geniuses, and the number zero has been invented by this country, students opting for Mathematics in higher education have seen a sharp decline in the last decade. 

According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (2015-16), there is a total number of 2870 students enrolled in Mathematics for Ph.D. out of which 1632 are males. Meanwhile, at the PG level, there are 1,29,604 students enrolled in the subject.

Neena Gupta, associate professor at the statistics and mathematics unit of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata and the youngest winner of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award – the highest honour in India in the field of science and technology says mathematics is unlike any other subjects. “It’s not something you can memorise and write on the exam sheet. There are some mechanisms and theory that you need to understand. You can only see some examples but have to apply your brain to solve the problem.”

According to Gupta, the reason behind the decline is that math “is not a key subject but it is the key to many subjects. Everyone should know basic mathematics but for further studies and research in the subject, one should have a passion for it. Otherwise, it would be very boring to them. Being in pure mathematics is always a risk and jobs are difficult to get as well.” 

Avneet Makkar, founder of beGalileo– a Math application for children says, “Higher education in Math is on a decline, partly because our school education fails to explain the “whys” behind a certain Math concept and the other reason is “Math anxiety”. Math is looked upon as an alien subject which has no correlation in the real world.

Demand for Mathematics professionals is on a rise across the world and there is a lack of qualified professionals to meet the demand. Math, if learned properly from an early age, will not only help the student develop core life skills such as problem-solving skills, and analytical skills but can also lead to a successful career choice.”

Solving problems on your own is the key, adds Gupta. “One can only help another person in understanding theorems. If one is able to solve questions on your own, they will love the subject. Plus, many people opt for engineering courses as money is also a motivating factor. How many maths honours will get a job in the corporate world?”

“If mom/dad is afraid of math, it would naturally result in the child dreading the subject. Math needs to be viewed as a fun subject. The solution to conquer math phobia is technology. Technology can be an enabler in helping children love the subject. Gamification of the subject can lead to children becoming interested in the subject. beGalileo has introduced fun Math games on our app and this has resulted in a 40 percent  increase in the engagement rate. 87 percent of the beGalileo community parents feel that, if the approach of the child is changed and the child views Math as a game and friend instead of a problem, Math Phobia can be conquered,” says Makkar.

Also read: Apps can make math fun to learn

Sukanya Nandy

Posted in National, News
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