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Meet Onodagu, 13, The Mathematics Queen

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Onodagu Blessing, a 13-year-old student of Federal Government Girls’ College (FGGC), Lejja Nsukka in Enugu State has emerged “Mathematics Queen” for the 2020 SDGs mathematics competition for junior secondary school girls nationwide.

Blessing distinguished herself among over 120 contestants in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) competition organised by the National Mathematical Centre (NMC) on Monday, in Abuja.

The Director NMC, Professor Stephen Onah, while commending the best runner up of the contest, explained that the competition was in three stages.

Onah said the first and second stages took place at the state level.

He said at the state level, the best three students in the mathematics Olympiad were selected from each states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the final stage where the “Mathematics Queen” would emerge.

He said the aim of the programme was to encourage the young ones especially the girls develop interest in the learning of mathematics.

“We initiated this programme particularly targeted at girl-child and we did it to catch them young at the junior level; because if we are able to generate that interest in them at that level that interest will certainly sustained.

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“The contest for junior girls Olympiad that brought out the queen today started last year; 2020 shortly after the coronavirus pandemic lockdown was eased off.

“There are three stages of the examination; first and second stages are done across the states of the federation.

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“And we particularly target the public schools for obvious reason that the Federal Government is the one funding the programme, hence we concentrated on public schools,’’ he explained.

According to him, the centre in collaboration with other relevant agencies of government had been developing means of making mathematics interesting to learn.

“This is why the Centre developed materials like games to enhance the learning of mathematics in schools and that has helped the younger ones becoming confident in taking mathematics and facing the challenges,’’ Onah said.

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Similarly, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Dr Adejoke Oreolope-Adefulire, commended the management of NMC for the programme, saying that it will promote the quality of girl-child education in Nigeria.

Represented by Dr Ifeyinwa Nnamchi-Ukaegbu, Oreolope-Adefulire noted that investing in women and girls was vital to sustainable development in all the three dimensions such as economy, social and environmental.

She added that with mathematics every problem could be solved be it economy, social or environmental issues, saying that the competition will strengthen the learning and teaching of mathematics in schools.

She, therefore, urged the participants not to relent in their efforts to better their knowledge in mathematics and pledged the office continuous support to any programmme of NMC that promotes girl-child education.

The Principal of FGGC, Lejja Nsukka, Dr Charity Ogah, attributed the success of the school to having committed teachers and students, who were willing to learn.

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Ogah said that mathematics would not be hard “when it is in everyday life activities”, the focus is to make the students love mathematics once that is done it becomes part of their life.

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Earlier, the winner of the contest appreciated the management of the centre and her school for the opportunity and support during the contest while attributing her success to hard work and prayer.

The participants of the “SDGs Mathematics Competition for Girls” were given different awards ranging from bronze, silver and gold medals and all the 36 states given learning materials kits.

The medalists would also represent the nation in the international Olympiad.

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