A 15-year-old girl Mezisashe Ojuba has come first in the Kangaroo Mathematics Competitions.

This is following the footsteps of Ekene Franklin, who scored the highest in this year’s Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and was national gold medallist for Nigeria in the American Mathematics Competition.

Miss Ojuba, a Senior Secondary School (SSS) II pupil of Loyola Jesuit Collage, Abuja, won the best position in Nigeria in the international competition that over 90 countries participated in.

Professor of Mathematics and the immediate past Director and Chief Executive of the National Mathematics Centre and principal consultant for the International Academy for the Gifted, Professor Adewale Solarin said he was challenged by colleagues to groom gifted children in the country.

At an award ceremony in Abuja for over 100 winners (pupils) in the Northern category of the competition, Prof. Solarin said: “We started in 2008 when some of my colleagues in Morocco and the United States really challenged us on the need to identify gifted children early and develop them. Part of the challenge was that I have been producing students with first-class in the university; this is my 43rd year in the university system.

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“They told me that it is a bit late when you start with students in the university system; they may make first-class but they cannot make deep research. If you want deep research, go to secondary and primary schools, identify them early and develop them.

“We now found international competitions, like the American Maths Competition (AMC), where more than 100 countries participate; then, Kangaroo Mathematics Competition, where more than 90 countries participate. So, it gives our children the opportunity.

“Every year, we see new species of gifted kids. This year, we found some primary six and five pupils beating Junior Secondary School (JSS) I and II pupils in the same exams. There are many categories; the category that Mezisashe got the first price is that of SSII and III, which is fantastic for her to come first in the country. It is worth celebrating.

“In the last five to six years, most of these children eventually got admission to the best universities in the world…”

Miss Ojuba said preparing for the competition was not easy.

She said: “I won the first position in the state in KSF and a silver medal in the AMC competition. To me, the win is a reward for hard work because I spent a lot of time studying. So, it is satisfying.

“It was not easy balancing school work. I remember that week, I did not even touch my text book because I was so preoccupied with school work and other things. But I think in the end, everything worked out well. I hope to get many more awards.”

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