Young Bhutanese mathematicians were awarded the prestigious His Royal Highness (HRH) Gyalsey Annual Mathematics Award on 5 February.
The nationwide competition, organized by the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) in collaboration with the Druk Gyalpo’s Institute, witnessed outstanding performances from students across the country.
The award, established in 2022, aims to enhance and nurture students’ inherent with their native abilities in mathematics. Along with fostering a passion for learning mathematics among the learners, and highlighting the importance of mathematics as a language to understand the universe.
Participants are from grades IX to X and XI to XII, comprising from Middle Secondary Schools (MSS) and Higher Secondary Schools (HSS). This year saw a remarkable participation of 2,993 students, with 1,927 from MSS and 1,066 from HSS categories.
The written test, held on November 13, last year, challenged participants with questions designed to assess their number sense, problem-solving skills, and proficiency in inductive and deductive reasoning.
The award plays a pivotal role in cultivating a scientific mindset among learners, equipping them with the ability to engage in critical and logical thinking. It nurtures innovation and encourages a shift in the perception of mathematics from a daunting journey of exploration and problem-solving.
The HRH Gyalsey Annual Mathematics Award paves the way for both teachers and learners to embrace a daily mathematical learning experience that promotes reasoning, logic, and analytical thinking.
Standing tall amongst the competition in the Middle Secondary category was Tandin Zangmo, a student from Lamgong HSS in Paro, and a class X pass out, who is expecting to join in science stream this year. Securing the coveted first position, Tandin impressed the judges with her exceptional mathematical abilities, earning a well-deserved cash prize of Nu 150,000.
Tandin Zangmo said that she felt very honored to receive the award from such inspiring people and was driven to stay determined, and encouraged herself to improve in any aspect in the future. She added that particularly for the preparation, the mock test was resourceful since she could learn those question patterns and with help through YouTube and other avenues.
Following closely behind were Karma Kelzang from Dechentsemo Central School in Punakha, and Tshering Choden Norbu from Gelephu HSS in Sarpang, who bagged the second and third positions respectively, taking home prizes of Nu 100,000 and Nu 75,000 each.
Similarly, in the HSS category, Sonam Norbu, a class XII student from the Royal Academy in Paro, emerged as the champion. Sonam’s mastery of mathematical concepts earned him the top spot and a cash award of Nu 150,000.
Sonam Tobgyal Dorji from Motithang HSS in Thimphu, and Sonam Dorji Tamang from Mendrelgang HSS in Tsirang, secured the second and third positions, receiving cash prizes of Nu 100,000 and Nu 75,000 respectively.
Sonam Dorji Tamang expresses gratitude to Druk Gyalpo’s Institute and the MoESD for organizing an exceptional mathematics award ceremony.
“Receiving an award evokes a myriad of emotions within me, including happiness, pride, gratitude, validation, motivation, and inspiration,” he said. He said it gave him joy, a sense of achievement, thankfulness for the acknowledgment of his efforts, validation of his dedication, which drives him to continue exceeding, and inspiration to pursue his goal passionately.
Further, he said that in preparation for the award, he diligently studied class notes, textbooks, and supplementary materials, exerted various problem-solving, and group study engagements, utilized online resources, attended a review session, and frequently maintained healthy habits to optimize the focus on performance.
He emphasized the importance of mastering fundamental concepts, number sense, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and problem-solving techniques. He believes incorporating questions styled after the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) into the curriculum could enhance critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, and foster resilience and perseverance.
Sonam Dorji Tamang focused on self-directed learning, problem-solving, collaboration, competition participation, and applying concepts effectively, thus ensuring a solid foundation in his mathematical skills.
The second topper from the HSS category, Sonam Tobgyal Dorji impressed his peers and teachers with his dedication and passion for the subject.
He said he focused on developing his “number sense,” as advised by his teacher, diligently remembering concepts from mock tests proved invaluable during the actual competition.
Sonam Tobgyal Dorji’s natural affinity for mathematics played a key role. “From a young age, I’ve always enjoyed mathematics,” he says, “preferring it to other subjects.” This deep-rooted interest likely helped build a strong foundation, contributing to his exceptional performance.
While praising the current mathematics curriculum, Sonam Tobgyal Dorji acknowledges the need for future adaptations. “With changing times,” he notes, “some changes will be required.”
Looking ahead, Sonam Tobgyal Dorji, planning to pursue engineering, recognizes the continued importance of mathematics. He pledges to maintain his positive outlook and continue enjoying the subject as he embarks on his future endeavors.
Sonam Tobgyal Dorji’s achievement serves as an inspiration to young Bhutanese students, demonstrating the power of dedication, a positive attitude, and a strong foundation in mathematics. His call for curriculum adaptation also sparks an important dialogue on ensuring Bhutan’s education system keeps pace with evolving needs.
The organizer joined the chorus of congratulations for the winners of the National HRH Mathematics Competition, commending not only their achievements but also the dedication of all involved.
Applauding student’s completion and other winners’ successes, the MoESD expressed heartfelt gratitude to participants, teachers, and schools. Their combined efforts, the Ministry noted, were instrumental in making the competition a resounding triumph.
MoESD recognizes the competition as a crucial platform for cultivating future generations of skilled mathematicians in Bhutan. This initiative, fueled by collaboration across various stakeholders, is seen as paving the way for advancements in numerous fields and contributing to the nation’s overall development.
By nurturing young talent and fostering a love for mathematics, the competition lays the groundwork for a future rich in scientific and technological innovation. The MoESD’s recognition highlights the competition’s significance in shaping Bhutan’s future and its potential to empower the nation through the power of mathematics.
This sentiment aligns with Dorji’s aspirations, as he plans to leverage his mathematical skills in an engineering career. His story, along with the MoESD’s acknowledgment, underscores the transformative potential of mathematics education in Bhutan, not just for individual achievement but for national progress.