Bhutan to participate in International Mathematical Olympiad

The first IMO was held in 1959 in Romania

Bhutan is set to participate in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) to be held in Bath, United Kingdom, in July 2024. After three stages of selection, the top 3 to 6 candidates will represent Bhutan at the prestigious event, also the oldest and most prestigious annual mathematics competition for high school students.

The deputy chief from Department of School Education under the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD), Yeshey Lhendup said that for the events, the top 194 performers from the Gyalsey Award comprising 106 juniors from classes IX and X and 88 seniors from classes XI and XII, participated in the three stages of the selection process for IMO.

The deputy chief said that following the initial selection test in January 2024, 33 students are selected for the next stage. The selected students were invited to an intensive winter training camp from January 12–31, 2024 at Jigme Wangchuck Power Training Institute in Sarpang from January 12 to 31, where they received coaching from the past IMOs and Unites States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) medalists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT), USA.  At the end of the camp, another round of selection tests was conducted to identify the top ten to twelve candidates, who will undergo further online coaching before the final stage test in March to determine the final representatives from Bhutan.

“These final 3 to 6 candidates will be invited to a pre-departure summer camp. They will represent Bhutan at the IMO 2024 in Bath, UK, scheduled from July 11–22, 2024,” the deputy chief said.

The deputy chief said that along with students, six mathematics teachers and four math lecturers from colleges within the country were also trained on IMO ways of preparing questions, developing a rubric for assessment, and assessing the test papers. “This group of teachers and lecturers has been attending the training conducted by IMO specialists online. They will be part of the Problem Selection Committee, which will later submit questions to the IMO from Bhutan,” the deputy chief added.

Talking about the reason for participating in the IMO, the deputy chief said that the main aim of Bhutan participating in the 2024 IMO is mainly to discover, encourage, and challenge mathematically talented young people in the country. He added that the participation in IMO not only provide a platform for students to showcase their skills on an international level but also aims to elevate the standard of mathematics education in the country  and to promote mathematics generally.

The deputy chief shared that the participation in the international IMO will be an annual event where Bhutan will take part, and in the future, MoESD will institute the Bhutan Mathematics Olympiad to select the candidates.

The deputy chief shared that in July 2023, two officials from Bhutan took part in IMO 2023, which took place in July last year in Chiba, Japan, as observers. Then Bhutan submitted expression of interest to take part in IMO 2024.

Supported by funding from the RGoB and assistance from organizations like MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), the Royal Society for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and the His Majesty’s Secretariat, mathematic teachers and lecturers have also been trained to contribute to the preparation and assessment processes alongside students.

Meanwhile, the first IMO was held in 1959 in Romania. The IMO is an international mathematics competition that is held annually in different countries across Asia. It is organized by Singapore International Mastery Contests Center (SIMCC) in collaboration with the national math societies in Asian countries to identify and encourage potential young math talents in every SIMCC-participating country. The first IMO was held in 1959 in Romania.

The IMO aims to provide a global platform for students to interact and compete against their worthy opponents. IMO is the ideal platform to showcase every student’s potential and talent in math in the international math competition arena. It is the World Championship Mathematics Competition for high school students and is held annually in a different country.

IMO empowers students with deep conceptual understanding and logical thinking skills beyond grade level. This effectively stretches every student’s potential beyond grade level, allowing them to better apply much higher-level logical and analytical skills to solve challenging Math Olympiad problems. Questions in IMO are carefully designed to develop every student’s higher level of conceptual understanding and logical thinking.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu