First-ever PAMO participants bring bronze medals home

4  June 2021- History was made as Rwanda’s first-ever team to participate in the Pan-African Mathematics Olympiad (PAMO) brought home three bronze medals! Led by a female participant, the team of six emerged first in the East African region and 7th on the continent.

The students underwent rigorous training conducted by a team of tutors and volunteers from AIMS Rwanda, enabling them to be successful in Africa’s most prestigious mathematics competition.

“For a first-time team, the normal score is often close to zero because Olympiads are incredibly difficult. Team Rwanda’s performance is an amazing success story that highlights the mathematical potential of this country,” reflects Jessica Weitbrecht, Tutor at AIMS Rwanda, and PAMO 2020 Team Rwanda coach.

The celebrations were graced by the State Minister of Education in Rwanda in Charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Gaspard Twagirayezu who applauded the participants and thanked AIMS for its involvement in the competition. 

“We also appreciate AIMS efforts for not only being a champion for mathematical sciences on the continent but to also support us in strengthening mathematics and sciences in our schools,” he said. 

The initiative for Rwanda to join the PAMO competitions was born in 2019, and a team of students trained for the Tunisia 2020 edition. However, due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19, the competition was suspended. Unfortunately, some of the previously trained team members could not participate in the 2021 run, as most of them were high school leavers.

In spite of the intensive training, the participants described the competition as tough.

“Raising the Rwandan flag internationally for the first time was mind-blowing. Each step was tough but the training provided creative thinking and problem-solving skills which are essential for tomorrow’s leaders and Africa’s next Einsteins,” Abayo Joseph Desire, PAMO Participant.

 In addition to a meticulous training, a week-long intensive residential training camp was held during the school break in April. The students learned many mathematical theories and improved their problem-solving abilities. As part of preparing for PAMO, the team members have been part of other Maths competitions within Rwanda, South Africa, Canada, and Ireland. 

 The strong performance of team Rwanda at PAMO will prepare students to become diligent problem solvers in the future and showcase to the international community the abundance of mathematical talent in Rwanda.  

“Throughout the process, I saw the value of persistence and learned that engagement is the key. PAMO training is all about problem solving; it nurtures one’s analytical and problem solving skills which are very helpful in the development of society,” asserts Honorine Munezero, a PAMO Participant.  

“AIMS is providing young Africans with education in #science that they would have gone out of the continent to get. I am happy to be standing before the PAMO winners from which one might become the next Einstein,” said Momar Dieng, the AIMS Chief Strategy and Partnerships Officer. 

The goal is not just to have students win the PAMO competitions but to increase the number of opportunities for young mathematicians beyond Rwanda. 

“Our goal is to ensure that we expand this activity to include students within Rwanda and beyond. We are excited, committed and we know that we are going to make it happen,” says Dr. Herine Otieno, Director of the Teacher Training Program at AIMS Rwanda.