Uganda was ranked 5th on the African continent at the recently concluded international mathematical Olympiad (IMO) competition held in Cape Town, IMO is the world championship mathematics competition for high school students and is held annually in a different country.
South Africa was the best country on the continent; it was followed by Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ivory Cost, Benin, Tanzania, Ghana, Madagascar and Botswana. At the global level, the competitions were won by China.
Uganda was represented by four students and these included Hellen Ashaba Magezi of Makerere college school, Isaac Kakumba of Namilyango College, Vincent Odongo of Turkish Academy and David Twesigomwe of Uganda Martyrs Namugongo.
All the students scored five points out of a possible 210 points combined.
During the competitions, students answered six questions and each correct answer fetches seven points, giving a total of 42 points for all the correct numbers attempted.
“We noticed in the previous attempts that our hindrance to good performance was lack of proper training to the students which is of course a result of financial constraints,” explained Dr. Godwin Kakuba, the President of Uganda Mathematical Society (UMS).
“We exposed our contestants to thorough training both in Uganda but also took part in the general training organised for African students in South Africa,” he added.
Kakuba was addressing mathematics teachers during their annual general meeting held at Makerere University.
The students attributed their successes to regular training and the love that they attach to mathematics.
“The competitions are not easy because they don’t set syllabus based questions. We applied logic to be able to get those points,” said Kakumba.
On her part, Ashaba said: “It is not an easy competition, but I must admit that we held several trainings in Uganda and then in South Africa before the competitions kicked off,”
Kakuba explained that unlike last year where the society spent more time looking for sponsors, this year, they got the resources on time enabling them to send the team early enough.
“We selected students who knew the subject but also those whose parents were willing to co-sponsor their children to participate in the competition,” he explained.
He, however, noted that there is a need for the ministry of education to support their initiatives if the country is to remain in the competitions.
Kakuba noted that since IMO’s inception in 1959, it has developed a rich legacy and has established itself as the pinnacle of mathematical competition between high school students.
The team leader, Jasper Okello, noted that top students received medals. In addition, the top 10 students have a higher chance of being sponsored in prestigious universities in the world.
“The IMO certificate is recognized by prestigious universities in the world and any holder of such a certificate receives some weight during admissions,” explained Okello.
A total of 101 countries took part, representing over 90% of the world’s population. The IMO is the oldest, biggest and most prestigious of all the international science Olympiads.