Too few qualified maths teachers in secondary education
Secondary students are having trouble reaching the required level of maths knowledge in order to graduate, and the problem is that their teachers don’t have Master’s degrees in mathematics, says the Belgian Mathematical Society
Engineers, biologists teaching maths
In response to the survey, the Belgian Mathematical Society is calling for the recruitment of more teachers with a Master’s degree in mathematics. The society’s vice-president Philippe Cara, also a maths professor at the Free University of Brussels (VUB), told public broadcaster VRT that the survey results were shocking and pointed out that earlier research showed that the eindtermen in maths were also not being achieved in the first two years of secondary school.
Cara said that one of the biggest problems is the lack of a strong mathematics background among new maths teachers. Only about 20 teachers with maths degrees chose to work in Flemish education last year.
“It’s becoming almost impossible for schools to attract mathematicians, which means that maths education is being carried out more and more by economists, informatics, biologists and engineers,” said Cara. “I don’t mean to say that they are incompetent, but in some of these educational programmes, the dedication to maths is rather limited. Giving lessons in maths requires special skills and a high level of knowledge of the discipline.”
Cara suggested training for maths teachers with non-maths backgrounds and a reform of maths education in general. It takes six years to become maths teacher in Flanders, while four years should be sufficient, he said.
Flemish education minister Hilde Crevits admitted there is a problem and that decreasing the time to get a diploma could help attract more students to the discipline. She said that one option could be to integrate teaching studies into the Master’s degree in mathematics, so students wouldn’t have to earn a second diploma to become a teacher.
Photo courtesy StampMedia
million school-going children in 2013
million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013
percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma