A HatTrick by Friendship Schools at Math Olympiad Divisionals

For the third consecutive year, Friendship School students’ merit got them to the divisional level of the national competition. © Friendship
by Kingbadantee Sabir
February 8, 2024

For the third consecutive year, Friendship School students advanced to the divisionals of the National Mathematics Olympiad. With 15 students making it to the divisionals, this achievement stands as a testament to the students’ determination. Each successive cohort of students participating in the Olympiad has been an inspiration for younger students.

In 2021, the Friendship Education Programme began working to create an environment to enable students to engage with mathematics as an opportunity for their growth in addition to the school curriculum. The strategy involved the students in the National Mathematics Olympiad, preparing them thoroughly to cultivate a culture of embracing and excelling in mathematics, regardless of their social and financial circumstances. On 26 January 2024, it was announced that Friendship students had made it into the divisionals level of the Olympiad for the third time.

The establishment of a math club targeted at Olympiad preparation marked a significant step forward for Friendship Schools. Group practice sessions were organised, focusing on problem-solving across primary, junior, and secondary levels. The approach to preparation included setting analytical problems, providing resources, and conducting both offline and online sessions to enhance skills in number theory, algebra, geometry, and combinatorics. Practice books recommended by the Bangladesh Math Olympiad were also supplied to deepen the students’ understanding of mathematical concepts. This comprehensive preparation led to the participation of the first batch of students in 2022, helping them to gradually overcome their fear of the dense subject matter.

These efforts have laid the foundation for nurturing future engineers, statisticians, and mathematicians in the northern riverine communities of Bangladesh. Although currently in the nascent stages, plans are in place to organise math camps, workshops, and in-school problem-solving contests to keep the students engaged and motivated in the years to come. This is of particular note because these students come from some of the most inaccessible, remote, climate-affected places of an already underdeveloped country. Cultivating an interest and forte in STEM is, therefore, remarkable for children living in these moving sedimentary islands that have very little permanent infrastructure.

The creation of successive role models over the years means that students are now setting their sights even higher, with the ambition that one day, a student from Friendship Schools will not only represent the chars (river islands) but also represent Bangladesh on an international stage. This ambition stems from Friendship’s belief that all children are born with equal intelligence, and the circumstances of their birth should not limit their academic achievements or overall potential for success.

The Education programme by Friendship is a clear demonstration of the organisation’s unwavering commitment to empowering marginalised communities through education. By addressing the specific fears and barriers related to mathematics and fostering a culture of learning and achievement, Friendship is enhancing educational opportunities in the unaddressed areas of Bangladesh.

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