News Releases

UWI Campus Principal Calls for Change in Education System and Stresses Importance of Math

For Release Upon Receipt - February 16, 2024

St. Augustine

St. Augustine, Feb 16, 2024–   Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St. Augustine Campus, emphasized the critical role of mathematics in various disciplines during her keynote address at the 6th edition of The UWI Math Fair held on February 1st, 2024.  The event was hosted by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics of the Faculty of Science and Technology at The UWI St. Augustine Campus. Approximately 3200 students and 250 teachers from schools across Trinidad and Tobago attended the Math Fair.  A further 650 students participated in online competitions in the days leading up to the Math Fair.  This included virtual participation open to students from Dominica, Guyana, St. Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda.

 Professor Antoine called for a multidisciplinary approach to secondary education, stressing the importance of mathematics across various fields. “It could be that this is partly due to the over rigid compartmentalization of subjects in the sixth form,” said Professor Antoine. She explained that mathematics extends beyond physical sciences and engineering to economics and social sciences, “Quantitative methods are important to many, if not most areas of life sciences. And even in my field, which is law, there has arisen cases which are heavily dependent on mathematical statistics in arguments before the court, so it is important that judges too are able to understand and evaluate these arguments.”

 Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Dr. Brian Cockburn, raised concerns about the loss of math competencies during the pandemic, emphasizing the necessity of math skills in navigating everyday challenges. Dr. Vrijesh Tripathi, Head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics under the FST at The UWI, echoed Professor Antoine's sentiments, emphasizing the role and importance of mathematics in daily life. He announced plans for upcoming workshops and seminars aimed at bridging the gap between secondary schools and the university.

 Chief Education Officer Peter Smith, from the Ministry of Education, highlighted ongoing efforts to enhance school curricula to promote proficiency in Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STREAM), essential for global competitiveness. Recognising STREAM’s pivotal role as instrumental in empowering our students to not only acquire technical proficiency but also to cultivate critical thinking, problem solving capabilities and innovation. These essential qualities are paramount for success as we occupy our seat at the global table.

 The UWI extends its gratitude to UNIPET and New India Assurance (T&T) Limited, key sponsors of The UWI Math Fair, for their support in making the event possible. Chief Executive Officer of UNIPET, Mr. Dexter Riley stated “UNIPET is going beyond fuel by supporting educational initiatives like The UWI Regional Math Fair for secondary schools. We were proud to be part of this movement to empower students, teachers, and parents to pursue knowledge through Mathematics. Together, let’s unlock a world of possibilities.” Mr. Rajeev Bhattathiripad, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of New India Assurance (T&T) Limited added “Mathematics is all about developing problem solving skills which help you in every aspect of your life. We at The New India Assurance Co. (Trinidad and Tobago) Ltd. appreciate the opportunity we had of interacting with the secondary school students and being a part of their exciting journey towards this goal.”

 The UWI Math Fair aims to inspire a love for mathematics and encourage further studies in the field. With the theme "Expand Your Math-Verse, Explore Your Potential," the event offered interactive activities designed to make mathematics enjoyable and accessible. In her address, Professor Antoine also highlighted the need for The UWI to lead in elevating the discipline of mathematics beyond traditional boundaries, "Our mission has always been not merely educational but developmental.”

 The Department of Mathematics and Statistics also honoured past members of their academic staff including Dr. Robin Antoine, Dr. Shanaz Wahid and Dr. Angela Shirley for their years of service.

 Additionally, the many student volunteers are to be warmly commended for their efforts in supporting the Math Fair 2024. The Department of Mathematics and Statistics awarded medals to secondary school students with compliments from New India Assurance Ltd. for excelling in the competitions.  The department will soon be announcing the winner of the UWI Math Fair 2024 UNIPET Challenge Trophy, which is awarded to a secondary school based on overall participation, attendance and performance.



[L-R front row] Awardee Dr Angela Shirley, Deputy Principal Professor Indar Ramnarine, Awardee Dr Shanaz Wahid, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal The UWI St Augustine Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Chief Education Officer of the Ministry of Education, Dr Peter Smith, Campus Registrar Dr Dawn-Marie De Four Gill and Head of Department of Mathematics and Statistics Dr Vrijesh Tripathi. [L-R back row] Awardee Dr Robin Antoine, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology Dr Brian Cockburn, Masters of Ceremony Dr Dayle Jogie and Dr Akhenaton Daaga at the opening ceremony of the Math Fair 2024. 


 Students of Queens Royal College participate in a Math Fair 2024 display. 


 Students of Fyzabad Secondary School participate at a Math Fair 2024 display. 


 Students of Couva East Secondary and St Mary's College play a math game at the Math Fair 2024. 

 About The University of the West Indies

 The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development, residing at the center of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region for over 75 years.

 From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with nearly 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and its Global Campus, and global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

 The UWI offers over 1000 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and the wider world.

 The UWI has been consistently ranked among the best in the world by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). Since The UWI’s 2018 debut in THE’s rankings, it has performed well in multiple schemes—among them including World University Rankings, Golden Age University Rankings (between 50 and 80 years old), Latin America Rankings, and the Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Well-being; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

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