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Some Mathematics Education Achievements and Challenges in Colombia

Without a doubt, currently in Colombia, Mathematics Education is a developing discipline and an academic enterprise or life project of many academics. Evidence of its status can be found in the configuration of the academic community, in the recognition that its preparation programs and academics receive, and in certain actions of the State.

Indeed, as is expressed by Guacaneme and colleagues (Guacaneme et al. 2013), since the 1980s various groups dedicated to Mathematics Education have been formed in Colombia. Today they are visible on the Scienti Platform of the Colombian Institute for the Development of Science, Technology and Innovation (COLCIENCIAS). Equally important in the development of the community has been the emergence and the consolidation of the Colombian Mathematics Education Association (ASOCOLME). Along with ASOCOLME other communities and networks have emerged that have helped in the consolidation of various aspects of Mathematics Education. These groups include the Latin American Ethnomathematics Network (RELAET), the Colombian Network for Modeling in

Mathematics Education (RECOMEM) and the Colombian Network of Mathematics Teacher Educators. The strengthening of various national Mathematics Education events and the growing participation of Colombian researchers and professors in international events are further evidence of the state of development of the national academic community.

In the last decade the programs for initial and advanced teacher preparation have been subject to processes of self-evaluation and accreditation that have revealed their actual states of development. They have permitted an important recognition of the national community as it initiates its projection onto the Latin American scene. Equally, Colombian researchers in Mathematics Education have increased in number and have improved in preparation. Recently, the National Pedagogical University and ASOCOLME prepared a directory of individuals with doctorates in Mathematics Education. The list numbers almost 60,[1] the majority of whom carry out research in the country or are linked to it.

In a natural way the consolidation of the community is reflected in the number of research studies and publications in Mathematics Education. It is very probable that this growth is also due to the self-recognition by Colombians of the quality of their academic activity and the need to see their results.

Another aspect that has been influencing the consolidation of Mathematics Education in a positive way are government programs that support the continuing and advanced preparation of teachers. Indeed, in some regions of the country, although only a few, the governments have addressed education as a fundamental aspect of their policies and have implemented actions so that teachers, including those in Mathematics, can have access to graduate programs in Education. In a similar way, the MEN has developed processes to support the improvement of initial teacher preparation programs through actions that involve academic peers in outstanding programs.

The extent to which Mathematics Education as a discipline in Colombia is institutionalized, as is evidenced above, seems to continue to be insufficient to attend to all the needs for Mathematics teacher preparation particularly for professional development in their “local realities” and not just to improve the scores that their students receive on standardized tests. What is needed then is a national policy on teacher preparation that goes beyond getting teacher “buy in” with respect to the curricular orientations promoted by the MEN. Instead, it must transcend to teacher preparation that permits them to understand in situ the role of Mathematics in a comprehension of school contexts and to support the development of more mathematically competent students. The policy must give teachers a professional and academic status in Mathematics Education. That is, the professional participates actively in the mathematical cultural of Colombian society to benefit the construction of human values that transcend disciplines and knowledge.

  • [1] This number, still insufficient, is much great than the three who graduated before 1990.
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