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Caribbean Journal of Education

CARIMATHS: The First Conference of Caribbean Mathematics Teachers

Publication Date: 
September 1982

At the Fourth International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME IV) held at Berkeley in August 1980, Prof. Ubiratan D'Ambrosio proposed to Caribbean participants that there should be a conference sponsored by the Inter-American Committee on Mathematical Education (IACME) on mathematics education in the English-speaking Caribbean. This suggestion was accepted and it was also agreed that Dr. Fred Lemmer, a board member of IACME and a staff member of the University of Suriname, would try to organise such a conference to be held in his country. The government of Suriname agreed to host such a conference and thus the first conference of Caribbean Mathematics Educators was held in Paramaribo from the 18th to the 21st October, 1982.
The theme of this conference was "Mathematics For The Benefit Of The Caribbean Communities and Its Reflection In The Curriculum". Prof. D'Ambrosio in his keynote address emphasised the need for focusing on the mathematics of the ethnic groups and social classes present in our societies. This theme was developed and clarified in the papers of Prof. Eduardo S. Ferreira of the University of Campinas and Prof. Fidel Oteiza of the University of Santiago de Chile. The thrust of their arguments was that school mathematics ignores the mathematics of the people and replaces it by the formal system of the developed metropolitian countries. Not surprisingly, this has a devastating effect on most children who enter school with some numerical skills which they rapidly lose in their first or second year of schooling. The effect is somewhat similar to forcing a child to speak and learn in a second language from the first day he enters school. The speakers gave examples of ingenious techniques, developed by ethnic minorities and the working classes in their countries, for dealing with measurement and computation problems in their everyday lives.

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