ICMI moving forward in strength, collaboration and exchange

Editorial from ICMI President Jill Adler published in IMU-Net 81: January 2017

ICMI is a distinctive space for reflection, exchange and collaboration, for the dissemination of ideas and results at all levels, to all those professionally concerned with mathematics education at all levels: teachers, teacher educators, curriculum developers, scholars, mathematicians, administrators, policy-makers.  The ICME13 in Hamburg, July 2016, was our largest international Congress to date with 3500 participants from 105 countries. In addition, 230 participants from less affluent countries were supported by ICMI’s solidarity fund reflecting ICMI’s concern to foster participation across the globe. Our regional congresses crisscross continents and we have just launched a timely ICMI study 24 on school mathematics curriculum reforms.

Over the past fifteen years ICMI has expanded its core activities, beyond ICMEs, regional congresses and its targeted international studies (see ).  I draw attention to two newer projects.  The Capacity and Networking Project (CANP) aims to enhance mathematics education in developing countries by supporting those responsible for mathematics teachers, fostering sustained and effective regional networks of teachers, mathematics educators and mathematicians, also linking these to international  support. Since 2011, there have been five two-week CANP workshops in Mali, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Tanzania and Peru, offered jointly by mathematicians, researchers, policy-makers, and key teachers. Each workshop has around forty participants, half from the host country and half from regional neighbours; organized by an international program committee. A recent survey undertaken by Lena Koch in the IMU permanent office concluded that the CANPs (and follow ups) have amply fulfilled the most optimistic expectations of their initiators.

The Klein Project - also in collaboration between IMU and ICMI - dates back to 2008. It is inspired by Felix Klein’s book Elementary Mathematics from an Advanced Standpoint, and aims to produce resources for secondary teachers to encourage connections between the mathematics they teach and the field of mathematics and its evolution over the last century.  The project has developed vignettes - short, readable pieces on topics of contemporary mathematics. The Klein Project blog is increasingly active, and many vignettes have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic and Portuguese (see

These two ICMI activities illustrate the growing and intensifying collaboration between the between ICMI and the IMU, where the interests of our communities overlap, by enlivening and refreshing mathematical ideas in and for learning and teaching in school, and building mathematical capacity in regions where this is needed. The future directions of these two projects, as well as the continuous development of ICMI, are the starting agenda for the first meeting of the new EC.

Being elected as the President of ICMI is an immense honour, especially at a time of strong institutional collaboration with the IMU, and it is also a huge responsibility, to ensure the continuing strength of the institution. This is a turbulent period in the world, and there are increasing threats to collaboration and social justice. However, as a South African, I have learned over and again how turbulence brings opportunities. During my mandate, and with the wonderful executive committee elected to support ICMI’s work over the next four years, we will work to maximize these opportunities.   

Jill Adler, President of ICMI

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