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Whiz kids compete in math contest


Limpho Sello

Scores of children from Mohale’s Hoek, Leribe and Maseru yesterday took part in an abacus and mental arithmetic competition designed to boost brain power and stimulate young minds.

The competition took place at Lehakoe Club and was organised by the Universal Concepts of Mental Arithmetic Systems (UCMAS) Lesotho.

Aged between four and 13 years, the participants were tested on their speed, accuracy and calculating skills as they raced against time to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers. At the end of the competition, the children were awarded medals and certificates for participating, while 11 winners were awarded trophies.

The winners will also participate in a competition to be held in South Africa on 20 August 2016.

According to UCMAS National Franchiser for South Africa and Lesotho, Judy Janse van Rensburg, the programme was launched in the Mountain Kingdom in 2013 with the intention of helping children calculate faster and make their minds sharper.

She said UCMAS was not just about solving complex mathematical problems using mental arithmetic, but also about instilling and boosting confidence at an early stage in life.

“It enables the children to look at mathematical and all problems in a different way, and stimulates the minds of youths in a fun and engaging way,” said Ms van Rensburg.

Ninety one children, she said, were enrolled in the programme in Lesotho, and engaged in weekly two-hour sessions.

“Because these children are from various schools, we have a timetable of eight hours a month in which we work with them for two hours every week so they can become as bright as they are now,” Ms van Rensburg said.

“UCMAS offices in Maseru are located at the Platinum building where parents can enroll their children for these classes in addition to the regular schools they attend daily.”

She said they used abacuses to teach the children number concepts and numeric relationships among other arithmetic principles.

“We work with the kids using the Chinese abacus, and they also learn how to concentrate, observe, memorise, use their imagination, creativity and judgment as well as gaining self-confidence.”

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