Feb 04, 2021


By Jerry E. Esplanada
2020 was undeniably one of the saddest years in our lifetime because of the Covid-19 pandemic that brought misery to millions of people worldwide.
For Mathematics Trainers' Guild Phils. (MTG) and its student wards, however, there's a bright side: 2020 turned out to be another milestone year for the students who, despite the uncertain times, took up the challenge and competed in a number of math and science contests abroad.
The young numbers aces from various public and private schools nationwide made the country proud anew by winning a total of 2,251 medals and other awards from 15 competitions.
With a medal haul of 230 golds, 486 silvers and 1,073 bronzes, as well as 432 merit certificates, MTG kids emerged as among the top finishers in online tilts like the International Math Wizards Challenge, International Math Open for Young Achievers, Asia Math Olympiad, Pan Asia-Pacific International Math Competition and the Singapore HOTS Math and Science Competition, among others.
An additional 462 awards were garnered by the Filipino math wizards in October from the annual Australian Math Competition.
In 2019, MTG kids bagged over 1,200 medals in more than a dozen prestigious contests in countries like China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and South Africa.
Dr. Simon Chua, MTG co-founder and COO cited the students for "giving always math and science competitions their best shot and going for excellence as they also strive to improve and set directions for themselves."
Chua said he and the MTG training team were "very proud" of the kids' accomplishments. 
MTG kids, he pointed out, "bravely faced the challenges that the pandemic brought with it during its first year."
For their part, training team members "remained focused and determined to guide budding math wizards."
Established in 1995, the non-government MTG is "committed to its mandate of promoting excellence in math education in the country, as well as upgrading the discipline to meet high international standards," Chua emphasized.
Last year, the coronavirus scourge did not stop MTG from holding its annual summer training program for students -- online, of course, recalled MTG stalwarts Joseph Wee, Manny Kotah, Minerva Bianca Avecilla and Edmond Reyes.
Like Chua and MTG president Isidro Aguilar, they are looking forward to the holding of this year's intensive training for prospective members of math teams that will represent the Philippines in various contests abroad.
They all expressed optimism that God willing, an easing of quarantine restrictions, a modest economic recovery and a much-awaited return to normalcy will soon happen.
Wee referred to 2020 as annus horribilis, or horrible year. But he said he was confident 2021 will be better than the previous year.
Other MTG oldtimers agreed with UNICEF. which said in a statement that kids "cannot afford another year of lockdowns and school disruptions."
"The effects of school closures and distance learning have been devastating. Children's ability to read, write and do basic math has suffered and the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century have diminished," said the UN-attached agency, adding "students are showing signs of mental distress."
As early as last November, MTG training guru Renard Eric Chua had announced MTG kids' participation in the virtual edition of this year's International Math and Science (IMSO) Competition for Primary School Students.
Students from at least 21 countries are expected to take part in the annual contest hosted by Indonesia, Aside from the Philippines, other IMSO participating nations include math powerhouse China, Bulgaria, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, India, Lebanon and Mongolia, among others.
Other traditional math competitions like the China-hosted Primary Youth Olympiad, Northern Math Olympiad, Girls Math Olympiad and Hua Luo Geng Math Golden Cup may be held again this year, depending on the progress of mass vaccination campaigns and economic recovery of Covid-hit nations.
For now, MTG is "closely looking at training sites and workplaces' safety and adherence to health protocols set by the government." according to Chua.
Echoing health authorities, he reminded MTG kids and training team staff: "Face masks and shields must always be worn and properly, covering the nose and mouth. Hand hygiene and physical distancing. especially in public places, should also be observed."

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