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Mathematics Education – Past, Present and Future
 
24th J. E. Jayasuriya Memorial Lecture by Dr. Upali Mampitiya
     
Mathematics Education – Past, Present and Future  

I first knew the name J. E. Jayasuriya when I was probably 3 or 4 years old. I continued to hear that name in my household, always associated with three Sinhala medium books "ගණිත නවෝදය" (Ganitha Navodaya), "වීජ ගණිතය" (Veeja Ganithaya) and "සීඝ්‍ර ජ්‍යාමිතිය" (Seegra Jyamithiya), on a regular basis for many more years before I comprehended who that person was.

 

That happened when I progressed to Grade 6 at school and I inherited some of these books from my seven older siblings who had used them one after another. Needless to say, when they reached me, the books were in a very poor condition with sheets torn, pages loose and the binding worn out. By the time I started Grade 6, J. E. Jayasuriya’s books were no longer in use at the school for any Grade and instead we had some other prescribed textbooks for Mathematics.


However, from this point onwards until I finished General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) (GCE (O/L)) Examination my primary source of learning Mathematics was not the textbooks recommended by the school but the treasured Veeja Ganithaya and Seegra Jyamithiya books passed on to me by elder brothers. Even though the physical condition of the books I possessed was not very attractive to the eye, they were inspiring to read and had questions carefully arranged in increasing level of difficulty. That made me comfortable in learning concepts and was sufficiently challenging in for solving problems by myself as a child.


My experience of becoming interested in Mathematics as a young student due to the influence of popular J. E. Jayasuriya’s books would be similar to that of many others. Several generations of students have benefited directly from his contribution as writer of affordably priced mathematics textbooks in the Sinhala medium for the junior school grades. He was able to fill the void regarding the availability of textbooks on the subject when English was replaced as the medium of instruction, in the junior grades, in the nineteen fifties. These remained the most widely used mathematics books in schools until the government started producing textbooks under the guidance of the Ministry of Education.

 
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Contribution by Eng. Arjuna Manamperi
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