La Salle old boys sponsor learning tools to get students excited about Maths

Article by Lee Chong Hui – 15 November 2020 in The Star.
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LEARNING by gaming might just be the key to building a solid Mathematics foundation among students.

Realising this, the Old Lasallian Association of Petaling Jaya (OLA.LSPJ) has raised funds among themselves to sponsor 50 tablets and access to an Australian interactive web-based gaming platform that improves knowledge of maths for 210 underprivileged primary and secondary students of La Salle Petaling Jaya.

SMK La Salle principal Dr Teh Lai Hoong said mastering Mathematics was essential for students’ brain development.

“Easy access to calculators has led students to think that it is unnecessary to master Mathematics.

“What they fail to realise is that Mathematics isn’t just about calculations. It is a platform for them to practise critical thinking, higher order thinking skills and problem solving.

“There are procedures and steps to follow in Mathematics and these help them become better thinkers and problem solvers.”

Noting that 48% of SMK La Salle’s 831 students are from the B40 community, Teh said OLA.LSPJ started the sponsorship initiative to help these students master the subject and to gain access to electronic devices to help in their learning.

Teh said the school’s computers are mostly obsolete and no longer function and many of the students do not have smartphones, laptops or tables for online lessons.

“Many of our boys were lost since the first movement control order (MCO) as they do not own devices for home-based learning.

“Many also had no Internet access at home and would find ways to connect to the Wifi in public areas for online learning – which was not easy because they were not allowed to go out under the MCO.

“Thanks to OLA.LSPJ, we see how the boys light up and are more engaged in a subject that they normally dread. It’s very exciting for us.”

OLA.LSPJ president Cason Ong said the association’s intention was to ensure that students have the opportunity to become well-versed in Mathematics.

“We did a survey and found that (La Salle’s) primary school pupils’ grasp on Mathematics was quite poor. They are less likely to catch up when they enter Form One as their foundation of the subject is weak.

“We hope that by making learning fun instead of scary, we can get the children interested in Mathematics.”

Due to the disruption caused by the conditional MCO, Ong said the school and association are trying to work out a way for the students to bring the tablets back home with them so that they are responsible for it.

The OLA.LSPJ sponsorship programme was launched on Nov 3 with 70 Form One students. Another 140 primary and secondary students will benefit next year.

OLA.LSPJ is the official alumni body of the La Salle PJ school, representing alumni of both the primary and secondary wings of the school which recently celebrated its Diamond Jubilee last year.

The association continues to be an important stakeholder of the school, along with the Board of Governors, the school administration, as well as the parent-teacher association.