A don, Prof. Olusegun Olotu, has expressed concern over possible acute shortage of Mathematics teachers with dire consequences for education, science and technology in the country.
Olotu, a Professor of Applied Mathematics, raised the alarm while delivering the 123rd inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) on Thursday.
The don, who noted that the shortage of teachers and lecturers of pure mathematics was not peculiar to Nigeria and its university system, described the situation as ‘a global phenomenon’ that must be addressed very urgently.
According to him, pure mathematics may soon vanish as time progresses if concerted efforts are not put in place to acquire mathematical knowledge and apply that knowledge painstakingly with cognitive reasoning and patience.
He said that deliberate efforts must be made by the managers of the education sector in Nigeria to groom new teachers and lecturers of mathematics to take over from the aging and retiring ones.
Olotu, spoke on the topic: ‘Seeking Best Options to Life Problems: “Extended Conjugate Gradient Algorithms for Constrained Optimal Control Problems.” He said the topic of the lecture was from a branch of mathematics called Optimization Theory, which means to obtain a best result from a given list of alternatives under given circumstances.
He said without algebra, differential equations, real analysis, functional analysis, optimization theory and other areas of pure mathematics, application areas such as engineering, science, economics, medicine, social sciences and technology will not exist.
He explained that mathematics was the foundation stone for every science subject and that many times ‘we apply mathematics consciously or otherwise in our daily life activities.’
He said the inability of Nigeria to compete globally would always remind the country of its negligence and deficiency in mathematics.
Olotu advised that young mathematicians should be encouraged by providing scholarships, locally and internationally.
He urged the government to sensitised industries to accommodate them as venues for the applicability of all those undefined terms in pure mathematics.
He also recommended employing adequate staff, providing conducive environment in terms of mathematics laboratories, encouraging best graduates to avail themselves of job opportunities in the education system.
The lecturer said there was the need to applying the lecturer-students ratio, 1:30 as steps that would ensure the efficient study of pure mathematics.
He said that universities worldwide should encourage Mathematics departments by equipping mathematics laboratories with modern hardware and software facilities.
“These laboratories should be manned by competent professionals whose duties will be to assist students in problem solving sessions,” he said.
Olotu said graduates should apply themselves to studying the much-needed area of mathematics as stipulated by the department and supported by the management to qualify them for job opportunities as they might arise.
He harped on the beauty of the efficient teacher student ratio, saying this would enable the lecturer know academically deficient students and take appropriate actions to assist them.
“To achieve this, every large class must be reduced to smaller sub-classes, and there should also be quiz every week to test the knowledge and understanding of the students.
“And all quizzes would sum to 100 points as one of the assessment criteria for the semester grade,” he said.
The Don said that if the above suggestions and others that the management of the sector deemed fit were considered, students would benefit immensely, thus enhancing the reputation of universities globally.
He also urged the government and all stakeholders to adequately fund universities for effective learning and research.
The Chairman of the occasion, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Fuwape, described the lecturer as an erudite scholar and commended him on the cerebral delivery of the lecture.
Fuwape added that the lecturer had shown prodigious contribution to knowledge.