National Science Foundation
Fostering International Collaboration in Mathematics Education Research in Africa and the United States
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Pan African Mathematical Olympiad Participants from several African countries.

Credit: Adrian Bishop
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What issues prevent students in poor countries in Africa and in underserved communities in the United States from receiving high-quality mathematics instruction?

Under the leadership of Dr. Shirley M. McBay, and in collaboration with the African Mathematical Union, the Quality Education for Minorities Network (QEM) organized and conducted an international workshop on mathematics education research during summer 2006 in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss this question and formulate a collaborative mathematics education research agenda for Africa and the United States. With support from the national Science Foundation (NSF) and additional funding from the John Templeton Foundation, a 19-member African delegation and a 19-member U.S. delegation identified five priority areas for collaboration:

  • the preparation and professional development of mathematics teachers;

  • the role of culture in the teaching and learning of mathematics;

  • nurturing mathematical talent;

  • the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on Africa‚Äôs human resources, especially its teacher workforce; and

  • mathematics curricula.

The workshop resulted in a collaborative mathematics education research agenda for Africa and the United States, as well as an action plan. The action plan included recommendations to develop opportunities for research exchange experiences, international student internships in HIV/AIDS, mathematics training camps for middle and high school students in the United States, and international conferences focused on the priority areas.

Workshop participants included mathematicians, mathematics education researchers, teacher educators, practitioners, and policy makers. The African delegation represented 11 African countries. The U.S. delegation hailed from 10 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Collectively, the group represented 36 institutions and organizations that included Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as organizations such as UNESCO, the International Commission for Mathematical Instruction, and the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa. Approximately 40 high school students and their coaches from several African countries who participated in the 2006 Pan African Mathematical Olympiad competition also attended the workshop

Partner: John Templeton Foundation

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