Contestants at the 16th UCMAS National Abacus Mental & Arithmetic Competition 2019.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
DUBAI: Almost 1000 children from across the UAE took up the mighty challenge to test their mental math skills, racing their minds against time to calculate 200 arithmetic sums in a matter of eight minutes in a highly charged, competitive environment.
At the recently held 16th UCMAS National Abacus Mental & Arithmetic Competition 2019, more than 30 nationalities across the UAE participated to bring to the fore few of the fastest human calculators in the country. The event also saw an impressive participation of Emirati students, who were second-highest in number after Indians and won several prizes.
In total, around 200 contestants won awards in categories including Grand Champions, Champions, Runners Up (1st to 5th), Little Star and Radiant Star, besides merit awards presented to several participants for their accomplishments. Students from India, UAE, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Pakistan, Britain, USA, Philippines, Iraq, Canada, Algeria, Palestine and Bangladesh swept away most of the prizes and were appreciated for their quick-thinking and nimble-mindedness.
The competition was conducted in two sessions, with participants grouped in 24 categories based on age and level completion. Each contestant had to answer 200 math questions that were presented visually in just 8 minutes. Juniors were tested on addition and subtraction, while at the senior level the stakes got higher and competition toughened to include multiplication and division as well.
Commenting on the contest, Soundari Raj, Managing Director of UCMAS UAE, said, “As always, it was encouraging to see a large mix of nationalities with a competitive spirit among the participants. Children and young adults nowadays need more challenging diversions to keep themselves occupied as compared to earlier generations. With UCMAS, they have the option to test their limits and in fact push the envelope to the next level. Mental arithmetic is as much a skill as it’s an art and at UCMAS we nurture this skill and guide our students to use their brains constructively helping them to sharpen and exercise their minds to maximum”.
SwarupAmminaeni, Executive Director, UCMAS-UAE congratulated the winners and their parents and added: “This learning is not just about mental math; at the end of the day, it is helping children build resilience, and preparing them to face problems they may come across in life as they grow older. They learn that hard work and dedication brings result. Essentially, UCMAS is encouraging healthy attitude of competition among children and teenagers which should be inculcated at a young age”.
The Universal Concept of Mental Arithmetic System (UCMAS) is an internationally acclaimed skill and mental development programme that promotes mental arithmetic system designed for children between 4 and 13 years. During the course of study children learn time management, self-discipline, problem solving techniques improves the listening and visualization skills while learning to multi-task. The programme helps in holistic brain development, improving concentration, observation, memory, imagination and creativity while developing skills such as judgment, application, reasoning and self-confidence. At present, there are 36 centres in the UAE teaching over 4000 students.
Chief Guests at the event were Ngew Khoo Hoe – Associate Director, UCIC International Headquarters, Malaysia and Dr. Fazal Malik, Dean of Humanities, Art & Applied Sciences, Amity University.
As a global brand, Ucmas is the largest worldwide skill development programme promoting the universal concept of a mental arithmetic system for children between the ages of 6 and 13. Operational in 52 countries, Ucmas has trained more than a million students worldwide and about 25000 students across 27 centres in the United Arab Emirates since its inception in 2003. The Ucmas approach promotes holistic brain development and establishes core skills that greatly enhance the learning experience of the child with the aim of bringing out the best in every child. Ucmas is one of the programmes promoted by Abacus Quest Point (AQP), a company registered in the UAE and part of ARK Global Venture, a holding company registered in the United Kingdom. Other programmes promoted by AQP include DinoArt, Robotics and Vegaamath.
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Omar Salem Al Ma’aita was declared the national Arab Reading Challenge (ARC) winner in Palestine, after the statewide competition saw over 500,000 participating students race to represent their country in the semi-finals in Dubai.
Al Ma’aita snatched the title after outperforming 13 contestants, in the top 10 final spots, with his analytical and critical thinking skills, comprehension of text and ability to communicate accurately in Arabic.
Applied Nour Al-huda Schools, based in Ramallah and Al-Bireh, snatched the winning school of Palestine title, while Nablus-based Samar Hosny Al Qadh won the outstanding supervisor award in a ceremony held in Ramallah. The ceremony was organised by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education in collaboration with Dubai-based Higher Committee of ARC.
The ARC’s 4th edition saw an overwhelming participation of half a million students, significantly higher than last year’s candidates. Over 6,200 supervisors from 2,800 public and private schools across Palestine supported students and followed up their reading progress.
On the sidelines of the ceremony that saw educators, heads of schools, and delegates among attendees, Dr Sabri Saidam, the Minister of Education and Higher Education for Palestine, said the ARC has become a main pillar of raising young enlightened and knowledgeable critical thinkers.
He noted that the initiative reflects the presence of Palestinian students, offering them the platform to innovate and highlight their success stories.
“We hold great pride in the accomplishments that the challenge highlighted in the West Bank and Gaza,” said Saidam. He recalled Palestine’s previous victories in the challenge that included the 2017 ARC winner Afaf Raed and the 2016 winning Talaie’ Al Amal School.
“Palestine has gone beyond the participation stage to develop talents able to represent Palestine through knowledge and cultural platforms.” Saidam stressed that the “occupation will never defeat students and children of Palestine starting from Jerusalem and Gaza to every corner of the nation.”
Najla Al Shamsi, secretary general of the ARC, congratulated Palestinian students and education authorities on the outstanding participation through a televised speech from Dubai.
She said, “The challenge does not stop here. It continues, with you, to the rest of the region flowing through the Arabian Peninsula, the Nile and the Arab Maghreb. Reigniting civilisations through knowledge is a goal you have all been uniting to achieve over the past four years.”
Competing students and schools were filtered down in a two-day evaluation round before announcing the final results in the award ceremony in Ramallah that crowned Al Ma’aita as the national winner and awarded the contenders in the top 10 spots.
Abdullah Al Nuaimi, project manager at Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), noted that this year’s increased participation from Palestine embodies the challenge’s success in motivating students of all ages and nationalities to adopt the habit of reading and promote healthy competition in knowledge to build a better future for the region.
“Palestinian winners have led the competition over the past years, always managing to occupy advanced rankings in the finals. The progress represents a constant challenge for Palestinian authorities to maintain excellent performance and push it further,” said Al Nuaimi.
The ARC started its final round of qualifications last month to select the top 10 winners from each participating country. Through several elimination stages, students start competing at the class level, then school level, proceeding to the level of the educational district, directorate or governorate where top 10 students are selected from each country, leading to the announcement of the national winner.
The challenge’s national winners represent their countries in two-day semi-finals in Dubai before competing for the grand prize in the final ceremony held in Dubai.
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