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Malawi’s road to Silicon Valley looks promising as Mzuni Student Nyalugwe develops Mathematics e-modules

Leroy Nyalugwe: The man behind Mathematics e-modules

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—As students across the world are still feeling the pinch of Covid-19 pandemic which necessitated closure of schools, Mzuzu University (Mzuni) student, Leroy Nyalugwe, has come to the rescue of secondary school students in Malawi by developing Mathematics electronic modules for the Malawi Secondary School revised curriculum.

In Malawi, many students shun Mathematics saying it is mind-boggling subject and Nyalugwe, a third year student pursuing Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the country’s second public university, started seeing it in 2015 as a crisis which required the speeding up of innovation by repurposing the knowledge, resources, and technology at hand in order to arouse students’ interest in the subject.

“I first conceived theidea of developing e-modules in Mathematics in 2015 to address the problem of Mathematics being generally perceived as a torturous and boring subject by most students. Unfortunately, as a result of their weakness in Mathematics, their performance in other science subjects such as Physics and Chemistry is also negatively affected. Consequently, most of them fail to gain access into university programmes of their dreams because of having weak passes in science subjects.

“Utilizing my vast experience in teachingMathematics and the knowledge I have acquired from my study of ICT, I decided to fathom an innovative way of teaching secondary school Mathematics. The aim was to make the learning of Mathematics more interesting, and easily accessible in other modes other than the traditional chalk and text. In the e-modules, I have endeavored to bring out the applied or practical essence of Mathematics, rather than negatively perceived abstract nature of the subject. All this has been done with the aim of attracting the interest of the student by making him or her see Mathematics at work in his or her daily life,” said Nyalugwe in an interview with the Maravi Post.

Nyalugwe empahsised that the use of videos is an extremely effective tool in helping students both to communicate and visualize concepts.

“The electronic – modules are combining audio and visual to address the special needs students especially the visually impaired and the hearing impaired. This was done by combining ICT and Mathematics in relation to real life situations to help students to understand and appreciate the importance of learning mathematics.

“The modules are made in MP4 format which are more compatible with portable electronic gadgets like tablets,phablets, laptops etc. Since we are living in the world of dynamic technology, ICT have played a greatest part in designing these modules too,” he said.

Responding to a question whether the e-modules are accessible to both urban and rural dwellers, Nyalugwe said there is need for support from well-wishers who can distribute devices that support the technology of playing videos, especially for students living in remote areas of the country where technology is limited.

Nyalugwe also said that there is a lot of benefits in using e-modules.

“Given the bad times that humanity is experiencing at the hands of covid-19 pandemic, the e-modules will facilitate the teaching and learning of secondary school mathematics beyond the physical class room , at the students’ own convenience , in a manner that is very psychologically (combining text ,audio and visual) interesting for the students and even where there is no teacher physically present”, He said. 

According to the upcoming IT wizard, students have already started using the modules and the response is very encouraging.

“Yes students are currently using the electronic modules to cover areas that were left out during the covid-19 break. And as you know that MSCE exams were cancelled and form 4s are not learning, the e-module has come to their rescue as it is helping them to cover those gaps of staying idle,” he said.

About future plans, Nyalugwe had this to say: “l am aiming at reaching out to all students in the country to change their perception towards Mathematics and science subjects . We have a strong team of experienced people and some of them were involved in the development of the revisede curriculum that we are currently using here in Malawi.

“We are ready to use the media like TV stations to provide these lessons and to reach out to students in remote areas of Malawi given financial support.”

Unlike in the past, the current crop of students pursuing ICT and engineering courses has proved beyond reasonable doubt that Malawi can be another Silicon Valley in Africa.

Recently, Mzuzu Univeristy graduate Kondwani Chimatiro unveiled a software branded ‘Giant x’ which helps education institutions in the smooth management of such aspects as accounting, fees and production of receipts.

Another IT expert in Malawi Mayamiko Nkoloma, a Master of Science (MSc) focused in Wireless communication systems from The University of Sheffield, also responded to the skyrocketing of COVID-19 cases in the country by  coming up with a software to reduce contact in work places like banks, shops by making shoes smarter.

Having realized that no company wanted its operational processes to play a role in transmission of the virus, Nkoloma said a very cheap sensor would be embedded in the shoe and the sensor would allow people to make transactions by just stepping on the mat.

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