Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Young people today do not grasp the real-life applications of learning math; whether its understanding the statistics that define news and determine politics, the percentages that determine interest rates, or the columns of numbers that translate into solvency or debt. Without seeing the relevance to their daily lives, they have little incentive to practice or stay engaged. They do not grasp how skills in math are a key skill to help them achieve their long-term goals.
Sweden has an export-lead economy largely driven by large companies built on high technology research and development such as Skype and Eriksson. Technical companies face difficulties when hiring domestically with skilled labor in short supply—a problem prevalent in many Northern European nations. There is a substantial gap between the math skills that taught in Swedish schools, and the skill sets that the Swedish labor market demands.
Math is an obligatory subject in the Swedish elementary school, and in most curriculums in Swedish upper secondary school. However the students do not gain necessary skills and are not exposed to people who are passionate for the subject. Teachers in the Swedish school system tend to stay for the long term—while this provides job security, it creates a culture of tired, traditional approaches. Sweden has the lowest math scores in Scandinavia and they are continuing to fall—from 3rd in the world to 25th in the last few years. Most teachers in Sweden have never had any other job outside the school system—thus they are often unable to embody the real world uses of what they teach.
Previous efforts have been small-scale and expensive. Private math tutoring charges high fees and is driven by parental decree rather than student initiative. Students are not met in their own communities or social spheres.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Johan is creating a network of math programs to make math vibrant, exciting, and respected as a key skill for success. His tutoring programs are community-based, building a web of experts—from engineers to PhDs and beyond—to create a culture where math is easy and interesting. With a comprehensive approach utilizing YouTube, phone apps, online support programs and simulators, public math events, and an international network of tutors, Johan is building a new generation of math experts who understand the relevance of math and find it exciting.
Johan’s programme is based on the principle that math is an integral skill to functional and active citizenship. As an informed member of democratic society, basic skills in math are essential. Johan has set up outreach channels that show how math can help kids in their career success, personal ambition, and daily life. Johan has created a free and accessible program where kids can and want to participate, equipping students with an interest for math and the skills they need.
Johan meets the kids where they are, using free, creative approaches that stealthily get kids interested in math; he has designed both physical and virtual platforms that encourage inclusion and participation on a large scale, meeting young people where they are. Mattecentrum, the organization he founded, has an air of contagious enthusiasm that is imbued within the organizational structure, capitalizing on the peer pressure and “it factor” that drives so many youth habits.