Dr Chanakya Wijeratne, founder of the Sri Lanka Olympiad Mathematics Foundation, underlines the need for strengthening mathematics education in order to build a future-ready workforce in Sri Lanka

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is a Mathematical Olympiad for pre-university students which is held annually. It is the oldest and most prestigious mathematical competition in the world, and the first IMO was held in Rumania in 1959 with seven countries participating. It has expanded over the years and now more than 100 countries across the globe take part in it.

Mathematics is a significant part of human logic and thoughts. It gives an effective way to create mental discipline and increases logical reasoning. Moreover, mathematical knowledge plays an essential role in understanding the concepts in other subjects like science, social studies, and even music. Mathematics supports the development of critical, analytical and logical thinking and just as much we need to do exercise to stay fit, we need mathematical thinking to keep our brains healthy. In this connection, mathematics plays a pivotal role. Moreover, knowledge in mathematics is vitally important in order to deeply understand the concepts in science, social studies, and even music and art.

Therefore, Dr Chanakya Wijeratne, Senior Lecturer in Mathematics, Univ. of Colombo founded the Sri Lanka Olympiad Mathematics Foundation in 2004, and took the initiative to facilitate the country’s continuous participation at the IMO. Since then, he has been promoting and supporting the participation of Sri Lankan students at the IMO annually amidst manifold challenges and difficulties. However, due to inadequate recognition and support given and training provided, performance of the Sri Lankan students has been below expectations.

Mathematics has a direct impact on the economy of the country as it is essential for the growth and development of the software industry and key sectors such as finance, IT and telecommunication. Therefore, Dr Wijeratne visited the NSF on December 27, 2023 along with Mr Najith Liyanage, Senior Product Manager - LSEG Capital Markets, UK and Dr Dileepa Fernando, Lecturer at Singapore University of Technology and Design, two former students who have participated in the IMO, and held discussion with Prof. Ranjith Senaratne, Chairman of the NSF  with a view to exploring  the possibilities of the NSF serving as the focal point of the  IMO in Sri Lanka with the support of the  Sri Lanka Olympiad Mathematics Foundation. Given the outstanding importance and relevance of mathematics in building a future-ready workforce, Prof. Senaratne expressed keen interest to pursue the matter in earnest with the relevant authorities with a view to providing much needed support and patronage for it.