Solving the problem of Mathematics education in the Region

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) recently hosted a two-day workshop for mathematics education stakeholders from across the Region.  Participants reviewed the current status of Mathematics education in the Caribbean, identified current good practices, and came up with strategies to improve students’ mastery of the subject.

In the Caribbean, pass rates in Mathematics at the primary and secondary level are an area of concern. Pass rates typically do not exceed 60% in any national or regional assessments. Against this background, in 2014, CDB supported research into instructional practices of mathematics teachers in the Eastern Caribbean. The study, conducted by the School of Education, Cave Hill Campus, University of the West Indies, aimed to identify solutions to improve teacher effectiveness and student learning in mathematics. The recently held workshop is a continuation of those efforts.

Taking into account the results of the research study, workshop participants developed a draft comprehensive Framework for Action and Results in Mathematics Education (FAME), which is meant to inform ongoing policy reforms, and support concrete interventions in Mathematics education across the region. Upon completion, the FAME will be presented to the CARICOM Council of Human and Social Development and the OECS Council of Ministers of Education for adoption and implementation by CARICOM and OECS member countries.  

“This FAME will assist us in monitoring and evaluating Mathematics education in our countries and region. It will help us to take a multi-pronged approach, it will help us guide systematic and mutually reinforcing strategies in curriculum policy, teacher preparation, effective instructional practice, and accountability for learning in Math,” said Patricia McKenzie, Vice-President (Operations), CDB.

Ronald Jones, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Barbados, noted that the workshop provided an opportunity for experts in the education sector to build consensus on actions and strategies to improve Mathematics teaching and learning.

“We have recognized for a long time, in our region, that Mathematics teaching and understanding and appreciation has not been at the level that we would want to be. This exercise will give us…an opportunity to refine our whole idea and thought of taking mathematics teaching forward,” he said.

The workshop was held from November 15 to 16, 2016, at the Hilton Barbados Resort. Participants included Chief Education Officers, Curriculum Officers with responsibility for Mathematics, teacher educators in Mathematics, principals, teachers and students from across the Caribbean.