Concept of Mental Arithmetic System (UCMAS) Launches Mental
Arithmetic and Memory Technique Programs in the United States
KILPAUK TIMES: U C MAS -Mental Arithmetic
WEEKLY: 70 master basic maths principles -
by CHOW HOW BAN
Sci-Tech (Sunday star): Mental maths at the
fingertips - by SHANTINI SUNTHARAJAH
Tabloid GULF NEWS: An ancient device becomes
handy for modern maths - by KAVITA S.D
Tabloid GULF NEWS: What is UCMAS - by KAVITA
C MAS – MENTAL ARITHMETIC
is no limit to the potentialities of the human
brain. Not only does the function of the human
brain need cultivating from childhood, but also
need to be constantly used throughout. UCMAS is
a tool for brain development. The harmonious action
between the organs of human body and limbs, especially
the triggering of “image in brain”
is the promoter of tapping the function of the
brain in mental arithmetic by Zhusuan. A lot of
physiological organs of human body are divided
into left and right parts. Some of them appear
symmetric on the surface, but the functions are
not symmetric at all. For instance the right and
left hands are different in strength and skill.
Research on brain science reveals that the left
hemisphere provides analytical information processing
and is at good dealing with information concerning
language and sound; the right hemisphere provides
integral information processing and is good at
dealing with information concerning the shape
and space. The different cognitive forms of the
two hemispheres are mutually complementary and
co-operative and develop harmoniously, making
up the whole function of human brain. Left-brain
governs the right limbs and the right one, the
left. Conversely the action of the limbs also
has an influence on the development of the brain.
Human beings by heredity and education are accustomed
to using the right hand in the early years. The
right hand is used more than left hand throughout
life, so the right brain function is not fully
In order to explore and
develop the potentialities of the human brain
fully, many physiologists and brain scientist
have been studying ways to develop the function
of the right brain further. UCMAS is the result
of such research. It is the child education
on mental arithmetic by image of Zhusan that
solves the problem. Numerous examples prove
that people who learn abacus Mental Arithmetic
since childhood are more outstanding in intelligence,
academics and overall behavior. In recent years
with the spread of Abacus mental Arithmetic
training across the world, more and more children
join the classes and have improved their overall
The cognitive theory Two famous scholars expound
cognitive theory. One is J. Piaget a Swiss development
physiologist and the other is J.S.Burner, American
Piaget traces the stages of intellectual development
as follows: Sensor motor stage- Infants from
newborn to two years old get their senses from
the movement of their bodies.Pre operational
stage-children from age two to seven begin to
develop their thinking by using language, letters
and pictures which are abstract symbols. They
can learn simple letters, numbers and pictures
at this stage. Formal operations Stage- Children
above eleven are mature in their thinking. They
can analyze by abstract formal logic. They can
be taught abstract concepts as algebra and geometry.
As the consciousness of numbers is gradually
developed in children from one and half to two
year old, it should be strengthened. At this
stage concrete item works as “teaching
aids”. UCMAS use the abacus. Through constant
exploration and practice the children get the
concept of numbers. It is only a beginning with
numbers. Soon, all the information is absorbed
and processed faster in the mind. The learning
of abacus helps the understanding of natural
science because it has concrete string balls
to help thinking. “The elevation of abacus”
means the ability to calculate by concrete balls,
the invisible imagery or formal calculator,
which then reaches the level of mental arithmetic.
The learning of abacus helps the understanding
of natural science because it has concrete string
balls to help thinking. “The Elevation
of abacus” means the ability to calculate
by concrete balls, the invisible imagery or
formal calculator, which then reaches the level
of mental arithmetic. The learning of abacus
has the same process of cognitive theory, which
emphasizes the mental development from the concrete
to the conceptual, formal and symbolic.
The research on modern physiology and science
of brain indicates that the brain of a 5 or
6-year-old child has reached the weight of 1200
kg making up 86% of the adult brain. At this
time the child has approached the sensitive
period of thinking in their receptivity, aural
recognition of sound and flexibility of finger
muscles. Therefore UC MAS works with children
between 4 and 12 years.
At the end of the term, the children will improve
academic performance, will increase speed and
accuracy and will create a genius by discovering
the power within.
master basic maths principles - by CHOW HOW
Seventy teachers from the UC MAS Mental
Arithmetic and Abacus Academy graduated from
a six-month Premier Achievement mental MA arithmetic
Program. They received their certificates from
Deputy land and Co-operative Development Minister
Dr Tan Kee Kwong at a graduation ceremony held
at Hotel Maluri Value Inn in Taman Maluri, Kuala
Lumpur, on Monday.
Tan said the key to success to
memorize the formula and master the “quick
finger” techniques on the abacus.
She said if the person could succeed
in both, then learning mental arithmetic would
become much easier.
The course stressed on the basic principles
of addition, subtraction, multiplication and
division, the calculation of continuous multiplication
and division, integral substituted calculation,
percentage calculation and square root and cube
root calculation. Ten candidates passed with
distinctions while Iriese Tan from the UC MAS
Taman Kok Doh, Segambut, branch, was the top
student with a 100% record.
Tan said the learning of abacus and mental arithmetic
was to enable them to explore the youngsters’
inner ability and improve their ability to focus.
She said she hoped to further improve
her knowledge and techniques in abacus and mental
arithmetic. Earlier at the ceremony, UC MAS
chairman Ismail Mohd Yunos said the academy
had over 3,000 students throughout the country
while it was expanding to other countries like
Thailand, Indonesia, China, India, Australia
He said the academy’s philosophy
was to lay a firm foundation in Malaysia and spread
its wing to other parts of the world.
“We’re confident that this franchising
system will move on to other parts of the world,”
he said. Adviser-cum-moderator Lin Ching Tang
from Taiwan urged the graduates to strive to
upgrade themselves and view the graduation as
a beginning of a more challenging journey instead
of an end.
He said they should cultivate a passion in
abacus and mental arithmetic so that they could
motivate their students to do the same.
MATHS AT THE FINGERTIPS
For centuries, the abacus was
the Chinese shopkeeper’s calculator, but
which the advent of modern calculators and cash
registers, it slowly disappeared from the business
In the past few years, however, it seems to
have made a comeback although not in its traditional
environment. The abacus is now being used in
education as a tool for enhancing mental ability
especially in children.
Dino Wong is the managing director
Universal Concept Mental Arithmetic System (UCMAS),
one of the learning centers that offers courses
aimed at enhancing the mental ability of pupils
through their handling of the abacus.
The center places heavy emphasis on calculation
and mental arithmetic but recently added English
and Art programs to its list of courses. Wong’s
involvement in education was purely a matter of
chance. In 1993, after spending 20 years of his
working life in the insurance industry, he was
ready for a career change and the opportunity
presented itself during a business trip to China.
Wong was in Jilin, a province in northeastern
China, when a friend offered to take him on a
tour of the local schools. He was astonished when
he noticed the mathematical aptitude of the Jilin
schoolchildren who, he says, far surpassed the
capabilities of the average student in Malaysia
when it came to the calculations and mental arithmetic.
At first, Wong says, he thought that only the
very clever children were able to do mental arithmetic
with such speed, ease and accuracy. But then the
teacher told him that all the children were able
to perform well regardless of their level of intelligence
in other subjects.
When Wong questioned further, he unearthed an
unusual fact-the children at Jilin were taught
to calculate which the abacus using both their
hands. In most parts of the world, the abacus
is used with one hand. The one hand method is
also taught in many Malaysian Chinese schools.Wong
felt that there was a link and sought to explore
it. “I realized that this was not only Mathematics.
This was also about enhancing the brain,”
“The science behind
brain development links the right hand to the
left side of the brain and vice versa. By using
two hands, both sides of the brain can be developed
Keeping in mind that enhancing brain development
is inextricably tied to age, Wong focused his
research on children between the ages of 4 and
12 years old.
“According to experts, 75% to 85% of
brain development occurs from birth to the age
of 12,” he says.
It is for this reason that the children in
this age group are the targets of the learning
“Children below 4 would be too difficult
to handle as a group by the teachers at UCMAS
and giving one on one lessons is not financially
advisable,” says Wong.
At the moment, specially trained teachers at
UCMAS guide groups of students on the two hands
method of handling the abacus.
“There are some places in China where
they use one hand and two fingers or three fingers.
Some areas use two hands and four fingers or
two hands and six fingers,” says Wong
who introduced the two hands two fingers at
“This method is much easier for the children
to learn. The simpler the better.”
Wong himself had to master this technique, and
to do this he went for a course on learning
the system in Beijing and Jilin. Believing that
the two hands method will boost brain development
and, by extension, mathematical aptitude in
children all over the country, he is now slowly
introducing it here, and seems to be making
“In Malaysia, we have over 300 UCMAS
centers all over the country,” claims
Wong adding that UCMAS, which is currently offering
franchising opportunities, has successfully
set up offices in various countries including
India, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and
New Zealand. The two hands technique of using
the abacus is actually a step towards a higher
level of calculation - mental arithmetic. The
children at UCMAS first have to be very adept
at physically using the abacus before they can
move on to mental calculation. Mental arithmetic
is connected to the ability to visualize.
“When the children are good, they don’t
need to use the abacus any more, they can calculate
mentally,” says Wong. Basically, the children
are taught to picture the abacus in their minds.
The figures that are to be calculated are visualized
as beads on the abacus as opposed to numerals.
“A bead is a picture while a number is
not. It is easier for them to visualize the
bead and to calculate,” explains Wong,
adding that this technique is effective in performing
basic arithmetic such as addition, subtraction,
division, and multiplication.
The method incorporates a “picture upon
picture” concept. “The calculation
overlaps – that means when one picture
is in the mind, another picture is placed on
the top,” says Wong who considers this
to be one of the least painful ways for children
to learn mental arithmetic.
“Our fastest children can mentally add
10 columns of 12 digit numbers within 30 seconds,”
he says. “Normally, you won’t be
able to even read the numbers in one minute,”
Confident about the effectiveness of these techniques,
Wong has tried to reach as many children as
possible and is seeking to dispel the popular
notion in Malaysia that only Chinese students
are outstanding in Mathematics.
In May 2001, he says, Chinese, Malay and Indian
students from UCMAS gave a 45 – minute
demonstration of their skills to Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad at Putrajaya.
The demonstration was aimed at showing that
students of all races, with the help of the
right method, were capable of reaching very
high standards in mental arithmetic. Between
1996 and 1998, UCMAS also went on TV to teach
the method, says Wong.
“TV1 gave us a one – hour slot
every Monday on Selamat Pagi Malaysia to teach
on air.” Wong is hoping that the two hands
abacus technique will one day be integrated
into the formal education system in Malaysia
and other countries, especially in today’s
world where almost everything is based on science
"Mathematics is the foundation of science
and calculation is the foundation of mathematics,"
says Wong Who himself enjoyed mathematics when
he was in school.
ancient device becomes handy for modern maths
Picking up any skill is an advantage
in today's intensely competitive, dog-eat-dog
world. Anxious parents, particularly expatriates,
hunt around for activities in the UAE, to arm
children with an extra edge in life. Often you
have parents packing off their kids to various
"classes" — swimming, ballet,
karate, art, music, etc. All in the hope of
an alternative to their favorite punching bag
— terrible television.
A recent addition to this burgeoning extra-curricular
activities package arrives in the UAE in the
form of the Malaysian franchised system, the
Universal Concept of Mental Arithmetic System
or UCMAS. Brought to the UAE by an Abu Dhabi-based
Indian expatriate Francis Almeida, this "skill
development program." as it's termed by
the promoters, revolves around mastering the
art of mental arithmetic.
The UCMAS, however, is not so simple. It's
not about learning to be a master in mental
mathematics and does not end up being limited
to conquering that old fear of mathematics.
But the promoters and instructors insist that
it is also about making the child use the brain
to the maximum. All through our growing years,
we hear this harangue about the futility of
using just one side of our brain, be it the
left or the right. And despite proof to the
contrary, education systems in some countries
continue to measure a child's intelligence by
their academic results.
"In the UCMAS method," says R. Balasubramanian,
general manager, marketing, of the Chennai-based
UCMAS India, "it's not about rote learning
or honing one side of the brain. It's about
tapping the 'full potential' of the child."
"Participating in this method of study
helps children realize their own potential and
they would perform as if they have been pushed
to the wall. There will be no 'I can't' in their
vocabulary, just 'I can'," points out Balasubramanian.
The UCMAS method, originally founded in China,
employs the ancient, yet universally renowned,
manual gadget — the abacus — the
rectangular shaped instrument lined with vertical
rods fitted with beads.
What it does is essentially teach the children
to become skilled in rapid mental mathematics
with the help of the abacus beads at first.
This is done through memorizing a visual through
the abacus as a mathematical sum. This concept
of thinking in pictures leads to clearer thinking
and an enhanced memory. The UCMAS concept prides
itself on promoting the right side of their
brain in their promotional literature. But as
Dino Wong, managing director of UCMAS Holdings,
Malaysia, who was in Abu Dhabi recently to train
the UCMAS course instructors, points out, skeptics
may raise the issue that calculation, logic,
analysis and math revolves around the left side
of the brain. To that he says the emphasis is
not on numbers. Instead, he explains that the
crucial difference here is that the numbers
are memorized as visuals. It's another matter
that the visual is converted into a number and
the child works out the mathematical configurations
mentally. Ultimately the child uses the left
and right side of the brain, admits Wong. This
is the basis of UCMAS learning.
• Nearly 300,000 children in countries
such as Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Switzerland,
India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Kuwait,
South Africa and Qatar are learning UCMAS. India
has nearly 20,500 children learning the UCMAS
in 362 centers. R. Balasubramanian, general
manager, marketing, of the Chennai-based UCMAS
India, admits that it took them more than two
years to get UCMAS popular because people earlier
were deterred by the idea that it was a mathematics
program. But as promoters and teachers reiterate,
it's about handing the children another skill
on their plate to tackle life better.
A look at the
system which claims to improve a child’s
memory and thought process.
The UCMAS method of improving the child’s
memory and speed in thinking rests on the ancient
tool – the abacus. (Remember, playing
with this bead instrument to learn your rudimentary
math as a child?) For the first six months of
the program the child is familiarized and made
to operate the abacus. The beads on the abacus
represent numbers and the central and the vertical
rods provide additional value to the beads.
Basically, the movement of the beads (see illustration
on Page 2) towards the central beam on a particular
rod forms a picture and simultaneously a mathematical
value. The association of the value or amount
with the image of the bead formation on the
abacus is imprinted into the child’s mind.
“The key in learning the UCMAS lies in
practicing on the abacus,” admits Wong.
Flash cards are used to enhance the visuals
and help them memorize the pictures. By the
end of the program they have 450,000 images
stored in their memory.
Once they perfect their ability to recall these
images and convert them into numbers, they are
ready to attempt problems mentally with the
help of the abacus- and without it after some
time. It’s possible to learn addition,
subtraction, multiplication, exponents, factors
and percentage on the abacus, Wong claims.
There’s one more skill that is developed
as they learn the UCMAS. Using both hands to
rapidly work on the abacus helps children to
improve their motor skills, says Wong. Moreover,
their skill of picking up the “visual”
aspects and process them improves, while mental
math only perks up their concentration and hearing.
During the training of the UCMAS course instructors
in Abu Dhabi, two children from Malaysia were
given long complex problems to calculate. And,
the children holding two-miniature abacus in
their hands, moved the beads around rapidly,
and in a flash gave the right answer.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
Children in the age group of 4 to 12 years
are the target of the program, which will be
available to parents from centers in Abu Dhabi
and Dubai-franchised by the UAE UCMAS corporate
office in the La Marquise building on the Hamdam
and Salam Street junction in Abu Dhabi.
The different centers will house classrooms
where a maximum of 12 to 15 children will participate
in each class. Children have to undergo nearly
8 levels before completing the program, starting
from basic to grand level. This is done over
a period of 30 months, which involves the child
taking a two-hour class once a week, with each
level lasting three months. In addition, the
child has to practice for 15 minutes every day
for the rest of the six days of the week. At
the end of each level, the child has to pass
an examination to qualify for the next level.
The cost of the program works out to Dh250 a
month, apart from a one-time registration fee
of Dh250. The registration fee entitles the
child to an abacus, the program books, t-shirt,
a bag and information booklets.
THE LEVEL OF STUDENT CONFIDENCE
The adage ‘old
is gold’ has been further authenticated
in the case of the Chinese abacus, developed
around 500 BC. Being used by UCMAS (Universal
Concept of Mental Arithmetic System), Malaysia,
as a modern representation of the ancient art
of mental math, it has been introduced in Mumbai,
The UCMAS philosophy is based on research of
brain science. It is being taught in many prominent
schools, covering over 5,000 students. Parents
have seen profound results. Says Swaroop Bendre;”My
daughter has been doing UCMAS since nine months
and I have seen a considerable improvement in
her academic performance, along with her concentration
level being increased. She has also developed
a liking for math.” Parents have also
noticed children preferring the abacus to watching
television and a general rise in confidence