The Use of ICT in Education in Mauritius

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The 21st century is knowledge based global economy. There is a rapid growth in the use of Information and communicated technology (ICT) all over the world, in different fields including the education system.

ICT is perceived as an imperative factor to education reforms. Like elsewhere, in the late 1990's, the Mauritian government launched an ICT strategic plan. It marked an existing period of rapid expansion and development in ICT application in education. It is being used to enhance the effectiveness of teaching and learning so that our students will be equipped with the knowledge to improve their performance, skills and even attitude they need to meet the challenges of the Information Age, to administrative functions. To keep track of students' performance is now possible technologically and its swift availability to teachers offers many opportunities for intervention, remedial work and enrichment. This shows the government's determination and commitment in their efforts to re-engineer the school curriculum and system for enhancing the quality of education in Mauritius.

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In the past, computers were only available in the computer room of a school. Teachers would use computers as tools to teach and learn computer subject only. But the situation has changed in these few years. By using the grants provided by the Governments and with the help of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), schools have started purchasing more computers, set up network and provide access to the internet. IT training courses are being provided for teachers of every school. Teachers of non computer subject have also started to use ICT to assist the teaching. Students are required to do assignment using the computer and the internet. The school, educators, students and even parents are suddenly aware of the importance and necessity of using ICT.

"The relationships between mathematics, teaching and computers are long-standing and complex. The actual practice of mathematics has changed its nature considerably because of the powerful computers. But those very computers themselves are only powerful because of the variety mathematical applications on which their operations relies. These include coding, data and computational geometry. Mathematics is rather different from many subjects in its relationship to ICT-supported pedagogy as it is widely applied in the world outside school and that this implies that students will need to be able to use ICT tools both to solve mathematical problems and communicate their results to others." (Oldknow, Taylor 2000).

So it is important to support the integration of ICT into secondary mathematics teaching.

EDUCATION SYSTEM IN MAURITIUS

Mauritius constitutes of a 6+5+2 education system that is, six years of free and compulsory primary education gearing to the Certificate of Primary Education then followed by five years of lower secondary education gearing to the Cambridge School Certificate and a further two years of higher secondary ending with the Cambridge Higher School Certificate. The education system of Mauritius is administered by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources.

The education policy of Mauritius is based on a three-pronged philosophy centered on access, relevance and achievement to achieve the overall objective of guaranteeing universal free and compulsory education up to the age of 16 since 2005 and improving transition to tertiary education.

1.2.1 Secondary education

After the primary education, successful students are admitted to secondary schools. After five years, they sit for the SC Examinations. And those who pass the SC Examinations opt for the two years of HSC.  The school curriculum is being constantly monitored by the MOE so as to adapt it to changing needs of all students.

After independence, several attempts have been made to change the educational system of Mauritius with varying degrees of success. Some proposals and recommendations were never implemented. Few reforms that have been done in recent years at the Secondary level include the following:

The extension, renovation and construction of secondary schools to increase the

choice of SSS to students in all regions across the country.

The conversion of State Secondary Schools into Form 6 colleges and the elimination of ranking at CPE (2001-2005).

Regionalisation of admissions to Form 1 to guarantee a fair measure of choice within a geographical region.

The World Class Quality Education for All. The implementation of National colleges has been taken place (2005-2008).

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In Mauritius the secondary education is free since 1976. In Mauritius secondary education has a very significant role as it is considered to be the final stage of leaving school and then to either pursue tertiary education or enter the world of labour market.

1.2.2 Mathematics at Secondary Level

Mathematics plays an important role in the promotion of logical and rational thinking and enhances the problem solving skills. In Mauritius, Mathematics is considered as an essential tool for the development of individuals in the socio-economic and professional fields.

As per the syllabus made for the secondary education, Mathematics develops students' abilities to:

appreciate their mathematical knowledge and consolidate their skills in such a way that encourages confidence to apply their mathematical skills and knowledge in appropriate situations and derives satisfaction and enjoyment;

develop an understanding of mathematical principles and appreciate the interconnectedness of mathematical knowledge;

extend elementary mathematical skills to higher order skills in more advanced context and apply mathematical knowledge in everyday situations;

develop the ability to analyse problems logically and present them precisely;

acquire the suitable mathematical background necessary for further study in the subject or mathematics related subjects.

develop creativity and perseverance in the approach of selecting appropriate mathematics method to problem solving.

The teaching of mathematics at this level is geared towards meeting the requirements for the SC after five years of study or the HSC after an additional of two years of study. At the SC level students can opt for either the mathematics syllabus D which is taken by most students or the core mathematics syllabus A, taken by a smaller group of weaker students across the island. Syllabus A is examined on a limited part of the normal syllabus D paper. Students at SC get the opportunity to choose Additional Mathematics. At HSC level, mathematics is the most popular principal level subject (students usually take three principal subjects and two subsidiary subjects at HSC level). Very few students opt for Further Mathematics, which is a more advanced syllabus of A-level mathematics. Some students take mathematics as a subsidiary subject also at this level. Thus, we find that mathematics enjoys a very high status among the school subjects and the subject is compulsory at the SC level. Failure in mathematics at the secondary level is synonymous to failure in the secondary education, as the subject is a basic requirement for almost all jobs that are advertised.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

There is low achievement of students of upper classes [1] in Mathematics at the secondary education in Mauritius.

The weak students are not meeting the expectations of the subject in one term [2] but still they are clearing all other terms and ultimately they go to the next class [3] with that same low result and thus achieving low performance at upper classes. This case is illustrated as follows:

The weaker students get

low achievement at upper classes for Mathematics

In the situation presented above, it shows that the teacher is faced with a class of two or more levels of abilities and thus facing problem of how to meet the needs of each and everyone in the class due to lack of remedial classes. The problem of coping with mixed ability students is that teachers are facing with growing size of classes in the secondary schools.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Question 1: Do Mathematics educators have problems of explaining concept in class

where students have different level of knowledge regarding the pre-requisite

of the subject matter ?

Question 2: Do Mathematics educators have the necessary resources to reach weak

students?

2.1 What constraints do they face in their teaching process to cope with the

mixed ability students?

Question 3: Why students have low interest and low willingness to invest in their

mathematical studies?

HYPOTHESIS

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To ensure the smooth learning of mathematics to especially weaker students, remedial work must take place to ensure that students have attained the right level and adequate knowledge before the teacher teaches a related chapter. Due to limited resources, time constraint or even class size, it is difficult for the teacher to reach all students as he/she has to go through the bulky syllabus.

As hypothesis, we believe that ICT along with proper learning strategies can help students to attain the required level before moving on with the actual lessons. And educators can make use of ICT tools such as computers and the Internet to enhance the explanation of their subjects by making use of presentation and demonstration as well as develop interactive and collaborative skills among the mixed ability students. With the internet a wealth of materials in all fields can be accessed from anywhere at any time, it also provides facilities to get access to resource persons such as experts and professionals. Educators can also make use of Word Processing, graphics, desktop publishing packages for their presentation. Therefore educators act more or less as a facilitator between the students and the ICT tools. The students also benefit from the use of ICT in the mathematics education since there will be more focused teaching which will be tailored to students strengths and weaknesses, which will be made available to them through e-learning. Thus through feedback and repetition of work students will be more at ease at their learning of mathematics at their own pace.

Technology has become an essential tool in teaching and learning of Mathematics. IT influences the Mathematics that is taught and enhances students' learning. Students can learn Mathematics deeply with the appropriate use of technology. For example 3-D diagrams which can be easily seen on Computers rather than on the Board. Time can be saved by illustrating curves and transformations using appropriate computer programs. Mathematics is a highly interconnected and cumulative subject. Therefore educators need to introduce ideas in such a way that they build on one another and should enable students to appreciate the subject from lower classes only. As students encounter problems in the said subject at lower secondary only, this caused them a lot of difficulties at later stage. And most topics starting from form I are continuous and inter-related till upper classes.

The need for this study arises as a result of under use of ICT in the teaching and learning process in the education system of Mauritius. Students are most restricted to bookish knowledge or teacher-prepared materials delivered as lecture. ICT can be used to enhance teaching and learning process as it opens doors to new methods which are more interactive and less boring. The country, including especially teachers and students, will benefit tremendously from ICT-integrated and learning methods if proper infrastructure, training and facilities are made available.

1.6 OBJECTIVE OF STUDY

The objectives of this study are to:

consider whether ICT add value to the teaching and learning of mathematics,

raise awareness of how ICT can be applied and developed in mathematics.

consider how to raise students' performance in their mathematical studies using ICT.

1.7 JUSTIFICATION

Mauritius is currently considered as the ICT Hub of the African region. However, the education system of Mauritius is lagging with the traditional teaching and learning methods as the order of the day. The thoughts of all stakeholders have to change to make place for the use of ICT tools in our teaching and learning process.

The need for change can arise from internal sources or external sources. Changes due to external causes generally arise from political, economic, social and technological sources. Internal to schools refer to the pressures brought by curricular reform. Changes in teacher-student relationships from teacher-centered to student-centered and expected comprehensive changes bring about new teaching methods, assessments of learning, student tracking, communication and evaluation.

Therefore, educators will need to adapt learning goals to a situation in which the everyday tools of education will assist with technologies and in such a way that the acquisition of knowledge and skills make possible continuous learning over the lifetime.

SCOPE OF STUDY

The scope of study is limited to

The mathematics educators of different colleges across the island.

Students of different forms from different zones [4] .

1.9 STRUCTURE OF REPORT

chapter 1 deals with the introductory part of the dissertation as well as lays down the

scope and objective behind this study.

chapter 2 focuses on the review of related literature in relation to the use of ICT in

enhancing the teaching and learning of mathematics.

chapter 3 deals with methodologies involved in the study where both qualitative and

quantitative approaches have been considered.

chapter 4 analyses the collected data and evaluation of the main findings.

chapter 5 Conclusion/ Recommendation.