In Karnataka, a ‘maths lab’ helps students top the numbers game

AJ Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on January 17, 2018

Yakub Koyyur

A tutor makes learning fun and helps children across the State numerate

For many, maths is a hard nut to crack. But for the students of the Kannada-medium government high school at Nada village (70 km from Mangaluru), it’s a breeze, thanks to the ‘maths lab’ established by their teacher Yakub Koyyur.

Koyyur is a well-known teacher in Karnataka. But the lack of funding made it difficult for him to start his maths lab project till end-2014. That year, the school’s old students’ network responded to his pitch for his project via Facebook and WhatsApp.

Many students in the network came forward to sponsor different items for the lab, which helped Koyyur launch it by February 2015.

When this reporter wanted to visit the maths lab, Koyyur said his students would explain everything and there was no need for him to be there. There is even a signpost in Nada to show you the way to the maths lab.

For Anusha, Sonakshi and Nelson (the students who had taken on the responsibility of explaining the lab) maths is “real fun”.

Anusha explained maths tables and square roots using paper cups. Sonakshi used a simple circular disc with a thread attached to it to derive the value of ‘Pi’.

Nelson used a calendar to explain the concepts of addition and multiplication.

If these are relatively simple concepts, Koyyur has devised others that are much sophisticated at the laboratory.

He said the lab has around 80 models related to various mathematical concepts. Asked how he visualised and developed the models, he said that as a teacher he would observe students and experts from the field and drew inspiration from other personalities in the region.

The results of the maths lab are visible at the Kannada-medium school: the total pass percentage in the 10th standard exam rose from 65 per cent a year in 2014 to 83 per cent in 2016 and 87.5 per cent in 2017. In fact, the pass percentage was 100 per cent in maths in 2017, he said.

“The maths lab is inculcating a love of maths in students. There is a vast behaviour change in learning maths now,” he added.

Strengthening the basics

A strong proponent of maths labs for those studying in classes 1-5, Koyyur said it is essential to strengthen the basics of maths through maths labs at the lower-primary level. If that is done, it will help build a strong foundation for the future.

Inspired by the Nada model, around 10 high schools in the State have taken suggestions from Koyyur and have established the maths labs.

Koyyur is also known for his YouTube videos and blog for students; he has posted more than 150 maths videos.

He recalled that a physically challenged boy from Bengaluru had called him after the 10th standard results in 2017 to say that the YouTube lessons had helped him score 40 marks in the exam.

“If I am a direct teacher for my students in Nada, I am an indirect teacher to thousands of students across the State,” he said

To publishers who push him to publish his works, Koyyur has a simple reply: his maths works are available for free for students on his blog.

“It is not that I don’t need money. But education should not be a marketable product,” he said.

Published on January 16, 2018

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