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The primary purpose of this study was to investigate on the level of use and acceptance of ICT in the classroom by secondary Mathematics educators in Mauritius. Several studies have been carried out to enquire on the use and acceptance of technology in the teaching and learning process but this study focuses mainly on the status of the use and acceptance of ICT in the teaching of the Mathematics subject in the 21st century in Mauritius. The result of this study can be of critical concerned to the Ministry of Education and Human Resources of Mauritius as regard to its plan of action for the coming years or the Education and Human Resources Plan 2008-2020 (2009).
The data retained from the 259 secondary Mathematics educators who came from both the state and private schools have given a proper feedback of the current status of the use of ICT in teaching Mathematics, the barriers that are hindering the use of ICT in the classroom and some solutions which the educators are awaiting for to overcome those barriers and integrate the use of ICT completely in the classroom.
Firstly, it has been noted that all secondary Mathematics educators do have access to a computer and have an internet access and they are frequently making use of it. This is a positive sign as in today's world where technology is taking over almost any field, it is correct to get in touch with it for the education sector also which will thus help to promote the education sector and bring in success at the different levels of the sector, that is, the educators, the students and the administration.
However, the main purpose identified in the survey for the use of ICT by the secondary Mathematics educators was for personal use, for example, e-mail, chatting, entertainment or surfing the internet rather than academic use whereby very few of the educators use the computer and the internet for preparation of lesson plans or lesson notes and mainly as a teaching tool in the classroom. This is to be noted as a great concern as it shows that ICT is not being used for the teaching process of Mathematics. Nevertheless, they do recognize that computers are very helpful in performing the task of an educator, especially for Mathematics whereby different software are available for problem-solving questions or even notes are readily available on the internet. They are thus keen to keep in touch with ICT with the valuable information that they can have through the internet which will make them more innovative in their approach to teach.
Furthermore, it has been noted that though the secondary Mathematics educators recognize the importance of ICT in performing their task, they are not familiar with most of the software available for use for the Mathematics subject which will be of great help to them. For this particular reason, most of the respondents agreed that they need more training which will help them in the implementation of ICT in their classroom. However, some of the respondents have already been trained on how to use ICT with the subject matter during their courses at institutions offering courses in the education sector.
Added to that, it has been depicted that the students also play a major role in the use and acceptance of ICT in the Mathematics classroom. Most of the educators are constantly encouraging the students to make use of ICT in their learning process as they do recognize that the performance of the students can be improved through the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of Mathematics. But it depends on the students' willingness for the proper use of ICT in the classroom as very few of the students are willing to integrate ICT in their learning; they prefer the traditional style of teaching and learning Mathematics whereby the educator provides them with notes and examples and they perform problem-solving questions using the notes and examples provided.
This situation is produced due to the unavailability of enough resources in the classroom which is agreed on the part of the educators also. For example, the project of the implementation of the interactive whiteboard in all schools of Mauritius is being delayed and thus, the secondary Mathematics educators are not having the appropriate tools for use in their classroom. Some may be able to conduct their classes in the computer lab but this is not the case for all respondents as priority of the computer lab is given always to those who study the subject of Computer. Thus, at the level of the Mathematics students, they are hence penalized and are not motivated to make use of ICT in their learning process as well as the educators' teaching process.
Together with the need for additional resources, the curriculum of the subject Mathematics at the secondary level has been identified to be not properly designed for the use of ICT in the process of teaching by the secondary Mathematics educators. It has also been noted with the crosstabulation of the curriculum of Mathematics and that of the improvement of the performance of the students with the use of ICT in the teaching and learning process of Mathematics, that one is dependent on the other. Since the current curriculum does not support the use of ICT in the teaching process of Mathematics, it implies that the performance of the students will not improve as has been observed by the secondary Mathematics educators in the survey process.
Finally, as the last question of the survey mentioned on the general perception of the respondent towards the level of use and acceptance of ICT in his or her classroom, it has been noted that that ICT is being used and accepted in the secondary schools, including both state and private, by the Mathematics educators to a very minimum degree. This shows that ICT is not being fully operational in the education sector of Mauritius as compared to other countries whereby they have achieved success with the use of ICT in the education sector.
6.2.1 Redesign of the Mathematics Curriculum at the Secondary Level
The Mathematics curriculum at the secondary level has been till now designed to provide mathematical knowledge to the students and the usual chalk-and-talk process of teaching has been employed by the educators. But with the fast expansion of ICT in almost all sectors, there is a need to bring about a change in the curriculum of Mathematics to lead to the successful implementation of ICT in the education sector, especially in the teaching and learning of Mathematics.
New teaching strategies will motivate the educators to work and bring about their most innovative and creative skills in the process of teaching. Also, the students will have a new style of learning using ICT which will motivate them as well and lead to an improvement in their performance in the Mathematics subject.
6.2.2 Training of the Secondary Mathematics Educators
Once the curriculum of Mathematics has been reviewed to a new format, the secondary Mathematics educators should be trained to the proper implementation of the curriculum which shall consist of the application of ICT in the teaching and learning of Mathematics at the secondary level. These training can be offered as part-time courses by several institutions whereby the focus should be on the application of ICT in the teaching and learning of the subject matter.
These courses will be beneficial to all those who are in-service as well as those who are planning to integrate the teaching profession. The courses can also consist of the study of various software, especially Mathematics-specific software like Graphmatica, Maths Blaster and others. Also, training should be offered to educators on a continuous, rather than a one-off, basis so that their ICT knowledge and skills are upgraded over time as technology keeps on evolving at a fast pace. It is indeed hoped that the benefits from the use of ICT can be fully realized and optimized in the teaching process of the subject Mathematics.
6.2.3 Provision of Resources
With the analysis of the data obtained from the questionnaires, the main difficulty faced by the secondary Mathematics educators is the non-availability of enough resources in their classroom in terms of ICT teaching tools (both hardware and software) which will help them better integrate the use of ICT in the teaching of Mathematics. However, as mentioned in the chapter of Discussion that the Ministry of Education and Human Resources has planned to equip all secondary schools with ICT facilities by 2015, this plan should be executed as quick as possible to avoid any slow-down in the implementation of the exercise like has been the case for the interactive whiteboard.
Also, the provision of resources should not be at the level of the students only as mentioned in the Budget 2013 of the Government of Mauritius whereby each and every student of Form IV level shall have a tablet computer, but also consider the required resources to be given to the educators. These educators should be encouraged to make use of the ICT tools as a teaching tool in their classroom rather than just for personal use. The encouragement to the educators will lead to the motivation of the students and will help in the proper use and acceptance of ICT in the teaching and learning process in the classroom; hence, improving the performance of the students which will in turn contributes to the productivity of Mauritius in the long run when the latter will join the workforce.
6.3 SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
In light of the above, the following sets the framework for future research. This study can be expanded with a more in-depth analysis of the level of use and acceptance of ICT in the teaching of Mathematics whereby investigating all the problems faced by the educators and the solutions they wish to propose. This study can also be applied to any subject matter as well as a general view on the integration of ICT in the secondary schools or even primary ones.
It is also suggested that future research studies analyses the impact of the measures that has been taken by the Government of Mauritius for the promotion of ICT in the educations sector, for example, the introduction of the interactive whiteboard whereby the researcher can investigate whether this measure taken is the right one or not by having feedback from the educators as well as the students.