Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tonga National Soroban Competition

March 30, 2011
Soroban Competition
It was quiet in the hall as I came in. The National Soroban (We know them better, perhaps, as abacus.) Competition was already in progress and there were only a few students seated at the rows of tables and chairs. It was the end of the class 4 oral competition. Sefo was rattling off numbers almost as fast as he could say them and the remaining few students were mentally arriving at the answers. Soon there was a winner to much applause and congratulations.
This is a competition for class 3, 4, and 5 students from all over Tonga. It is a part of their curriculum. Only the best are competing. Students have come from ‘Eua, Ha’apai, and Va’vau, as well as those from Tongatapu. It had been explained to me by a JICA volunteer at the CDU, Toru, that there would be 3 rounds. One with the soroban (abacus), one would be aural (no soroban), and the third would be visual—numbers flashed on a projection screen.  (JICa=Japanese International cooperation agency)
Next the class 5 students took the seats at the tables and had their sorobans with them. After about 5 problems, there were only 20 students left, then 10 (7 girls and 3 boys), then 3 (2 boys and 1 girl). A student from ‘Eua won.
The teachers had a turn, too. Their test was written and timed. (Hey, teachers, that’s some pressure, huh?)
When I left there were students from all 3 classes at the tables and the visual round had begun. After a few problems, I was glad to know I could at least keep up with class 5….
The results: I heard from Toru that students from Ha’apai, Vava’u, and ‘Eua won. Evidently the individual scores are part of a team competition.

Thanks to Toru for sharing these photos!

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