By ZACHERY PER
THE University of Goroka has lost one of its leading scholars in the field of ethno-mathematics, Rex Asaka Sanankeoc Matang. He was 52.
Mr Matang collapsed suddenlyand died around 7.45am yesterday while preparing to travel to the Goroka airport to board an Air Niugini morning flight to travel to Australia via Port Moresby.
Mr Matang was to present his thesis on his research and study on ethno-mathematics to his supervisors at the Southern Cross University in Queensland, Australia, before he graduated with a PhD in March this year.
His family members, friends and colleagues at the UOG told The National yesterday that he had been driving around on Sunday and early yesterday morning to town and back to his office.
They said as he was preparing to go to the airport with his wife (Lucy Matang) to get on the plane to Port Moresby, he collapsed and was rushed to Goroka Base Hospital.
Efforts to resuscitate him failed and he was pronounced dead.
Pro-Vice Chancellors of UOG, Associate Professor Michael Mel (academic) and Dr James Yoko (administration), described Mr Matang as one of a rare breed of academics and researchers.
They said he was one of the four or five people in the field of ethno-mathematics and indigenous mathematics in PNG.
Associate Prof Mel said it would be extremely difficult to replace him, saying he had done research to establish that children taught in vernacular at elementary school found it easy to be bridged into English, while those taught in Pidgin had difficulties at bridging.
“His research findings confirm that use of vernacular was seen as a stronger link from elementary to primary schools, his efforts support the education reform,” he said.
Mr Matang is survived by his wife Lucy and three children – Angie, Max and Russell.