Mathematics education: The relevance of "contextual teaching- in developing countries.
Sahar Sauian, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia.
Many studies had shown that rural students are lagged behind in Mathematics compared to their urban counterparts particularly in developing countries. The poor performance recorded is normally associated with negative factors such as learning cultures, poor environment, lack of teachers and other scores of attitudinal problems faced by the students. Teachers in developing countries are also faced with the dilemma of whether to adopt strictly to "content-based teaching- across the specified curriculum or to focus on selected topics which ensures higher percentage performance in public examinations. This paper attempts to exploit the relevance of "context based teaching- which enhances better understanding of mathematics in deprived communities in the developing world. This is of benevolence to policy makers as well as mathematic educators in planning curriculum development in Mathematics Education.
Generally, members of the public agree that higher percentage passes in public examinations today implies a higher performance for a school compared to the one with lower percentage passes. This does not exclude achievement in mathematics. So much so, the teachers' desire to promote maximum percentage in examination results has become a standard norm. The ultimate aim is to ensure high credibility for the teachers as well as the schools.
The above objective is indeed a noble one. However, some university teachers had complained (at least in our university) that students who scored good grade in Mathematics in high school, large proportions of them find difficulties in understanding college Mathematics. The question arises whether, the quality of examination questions in Mathematics in the public examinations has fallen or whether the students themselves passed the examination without the sound understanding of the required skill in Mathematics? It is unlikely that the former is true.