…Bhutan’s Premier Mathematics Initiative recognizes exceptional talent and fosters a positive learning environment
Susmika Subba & Sonam Deki
In a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education and Skills Development and the Druk Gyalpo’s Institute, the HRH Gyalsey Annual Mathematics Award was launched in 2022. This program is designed to foster the innate mathematical abilities of students nationwide, offering them a platform to showcase their mastery in mathematics, emphasizing a keen understanding of numbers and excellence in both inductive and deductive reasoning.
The award accentuates the vital role of mathematics as a language for comprehending the intricacies of the universe. It also seeks to cultivate students’ inherent mathematical abilities, fostering a positive learning environment.
At the national level, the HRH Gyalsey Annual Mathematics Award recently conducted examinations for students at two academic tiers: Middle Secondary School, encompassing classes 9 and 10, and Higher Secondary School, covering classes 11 and 12.
For the 2023 cycle, Middle Secondary School witnessed enthusiastic participation with a commendable 1927 students. Among them were 844 females and 1083 males, reflecting a diverse and inclusive engagement in the competition. Similarly, Higher Secondary School showcased its academic prowess with 1066 participants, comprising 372 females and 694 males.
The competitive spirit culminated in the HRH Gyalsey Mathematics Award 2023 examination, a pivotal event that unfolded on November 13, spanning time from 2:30 to 4:00 PM.
Kezang Doti Dukpa, the principal of Lamgong Higher Secondary School, shared his delight, stating, “As a school principal, I am overwhelmed to learn that one of our students has topped the mathematics competition in the Class X category. Tandin Zangmo is a dedicated and brilliant student who spares no effort in her studies and actively participates in various school activities. She will also be representing Lamgong HSS in the upcoming Golden Youth Award this winter. The entire school is not only proud of her achievement, but we are also thankful to all the teachers, especially the mathematics teachers, for making this possible. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Tandin Zangmo once again.”
The Middle Secondary School category witnessed 1927 participants, with Tandin Zangmo securing the first-place position. Expressing her joy, she said, “Winning the HRH Gyalsey Mathematics Award brought immense joy to me when I received the news from my school. I am still feeling that emotion, and probably I will continue to feel the same in the future. It was a surreal moment, and in that, I realized that hard work is always rewarded in many forms in life. I should keep striving for excellence in the future. As a student, I perceived math as one of the hardest subjects and often blamed myself for not understanding it. However, I later realized that with practice, determination, and hard work, anyone can achieve success. After this accomplishment and my personal experience with the challenges of understanding the subject, I believe that math can be understood by any student with the determination or drive to do better. For me, math is a turning point in life, as before this achievement, I used to have anxiety regarding any academic tests or exams, especially math. But after having the determination to do better in that subject, during the test, I believed in myself, and the results came out great.”
According to Namgyal Tshering, the principal of Dechentsemo Higher Secondary School, “We can emphasize the importance of mathematics as a crucial subject in life, especially as we look towards the future. With 10 subjects in class 10, each plays a significant role in shaping one’s career. We are thankful that His Majesty the King envisioned the Gyalsey award to motivate students in our country. This award elevates our school’s spirit, inspiring us to focus on improving mathematics by dedicating extra importance and time to students learning the subject. As a principal, it sets a positive example for students, even if there isn’t a winner, providing an opportunity for them to encounter questions beyond the textbook. This experience is valuable for everyone, and we have shared the questions with all students to try on their own. The results have been shared with parents to keep them informed about their children’s progress. As a parent, I am delighted that my son has proven himself, excelling in his favorite subject, mathematics.”
Karma Kelzang, the second-place winner in the Middle Secondary School category, expressed, “I believe that math is a universal subject, unlike any other, as it is not only applicable in every part of life but can also be a gateway to success in other subjects. I feel immense gratitude for everyone who helped me, especially my mathematics teacher, Sreekanth K, for guiding me, and I aspire to be like him. While words cannot fully describe the pride and happiness I feel, I believe that I am not at my fullest potential. I always believe there is more room for improvement and more for me to achieve. While many students aspire to become doctors or engineers, I believe there is more beyond that. I don’t aim to be a mathematician but rather a businessman. Mathematics is a crucial aspect, and I believe that with mathematics, I can propel our country to new heights, with every evening and dawn awakened by mathematical principles. I also want to emphasize that, although many students consider math crucial and may tend to drop it, I believe that without mathematics, you will get nowhere in life.”
Shambay Dawa, the principal of Gelephu Higher Secondary School said, “We are all proud of her, and initially, we thought that she may have made a few mistakes- I even told her that. We had high expectations from her, and she did prove herself. It wasn’t surprising, considering her proficiency in studies, especially in math. We are planning a small celebration for her on December 17, coinciding with the National Day celebration. This event will not only encourage her but also other students. Our school is accustomed to receiving national awards, and we excel at it.”
Tshering Choden Norbu, the third-place winner in the Middle Secondary School category, expressed, “I hoped to get good results but I was not expecting them to be this good. I feel happy to have made my school and my family proud and I hope that in the future, I can achieve even better things. I believe that maths gets easier with practice. Back then when I was in second grade, I would struggle with maths but ever since I began practicing a few problems a day, maths has been my favourite subject..”
Similarly, in the Higher Secondary School category, Sonam Norbu emerged as the first-place winner. According to the Coordinator of the Cerebral Area of Development at The Royal Academy, “I am very proud that Sonam Norbu emerged as a winner for the HRH Gyalsey Annual Mathematics Awards. I hope it inspires other students to work hard and seize such opportunities. Sonam Norbu has a bright future ahead of him, and I wish him all the best.”
As for Sonam Norbu, the first-place winner in the Higher Secondary School category, he said, “I am happy to have achieved first place in the HRH Gyalsey Annual Mathematics Awards, making my school and family proud. It feels fortunate to be the winner, considering there are many other talented students in Bhutan. I don’t find math difficult, but it does require a lot of practice. Mathematics covers a vast amount of content, so regular practice is necessary. If we grasp the logic and patterns, math can be enjoyable and straightforward. Learning to find patterns is crucial, and we shouldn’t get lost in the numbers.”
In the Higher Secondary School category, Sonam Tobgay Dorji secured the second position. Principal Jigme Choden of Motithang Higher Secondary School expressed her pride, stating, “It is a proud moment that Sonam Tobgay got the second position in the Higher Secondary School category in the HRH Gyalsey Mathematics Awards. It is the first time for our school, even though this award program began last year. He not only brought pride to himself but also to our school, and we all wish the best for him.”
Sonam Tobgay Dorji, the second-place winner in the Higher Secondary School category, said, “Winning the math event was a complete surprise to me, and I never expected to win it. I couldn’t even believe it when I got the news. Nonetheless, it made me very happy and feel blessed. Math has been my favorite subject since middle school; even my father was extremely good in math, and he made sure I put great importance on it. This is my first math event I have participated in beyond my own school, and for the future, I am not very sure, but I am very thankful for this opportunity.”
According to Principal Chokey Wangchuk of Mendrelgang Higher Secondary School, “It’s a significant moment for the school and a matter of pride to learn that our student stood in the third place in the prestigious HRH Gyalsey Mathematics Awards. The mathematics competition, especially at a national level, is unlike other normal competitions. Generally, Bhutanese students do not perform well in mathematics. Sonam Dorji Tamang winning the award motivated other students to give their best and once again made us very proud as teachers and as a school principal.”
Sonam Dorji Tamang, the third-place winner in the Higher Secondary School category, reflected on his achievement, expressing, “A rush of emotion runs through my heart when I am being appreciated by my friends and family of the school upon my achievements. A profound sense of pride envelops me; it is not merely a celebration of personal success but a testament to resilience, hard work, and the unwavering spirit to overcome challenges.”
The upcoming awards ceremony, scheduled for February 5, 2024, aligning with HRH Gyalsey’s Eighth Birth Anniversary, is eagerly anticipated as it will honor these exemplary students and further promote the significance of mathematics in education.