The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction, ICMI, is a commission of the International Mathematical Union (IMU). Established at the fourth International Congress of Mathematicians held in Rome in 1908 with the initial mandate of analysing the similarities and differences in the secondary school teaching of mathematics among various countries, the Commission has expanded its objectives and activities considerably over the years. ICMI aims at offering researchers, practitioners, curriculum designers, decision makers and others interested in mathematical education, a forum promoting reflection, collaboration, exchange and dissemination of ideas and information on all aspects of the theory and practice of contemporary mathematical education as seen from an international perspective. ICMI thus takes initiatives in inaugurating appropriate programmes designed to further the sound development of mathematical education at all levels, and to secure public appreciation of its importance. The Commission is also charged with the conduct of the activities of IMU bearing on mathematical or scientific education. In the pursuit of its objectives, the Commission cooperates with various groups, regional or thematic, which may be formed within or outside its own structure.
As a scientific union, IMU is a member organisation of the International Council for Science (ICSU). This implies that ICMI, through IMU, is to abide to the ICSU statutes, one of which establishes the principle of non-discrimination. This principle affirms the right and freedom of scientists to associate in international scientific activities regardless of citizenship, religion, political stance, ethnic origin, sex, and suchlike. Apart from observing general IMU and ICSU rules and principles, ICMI works with a large degree of autonomy.
Members of ICMI are countries, namely those countries which are members of IMU and other countries specifically coopted to the Commission. Each member of ICMI appoints a National Representative and may create a National Sub-Commission for ICMI to maintain liaison with the Commission in all matters pertinent to its affairs. ICMI currently has 80 members.
The Commission is administered by the Executive Committee of ICMI, appointed by IMU and responsible for conducting the business of the Commission in accordance with its Terms of reference and subject to the direction and review of the members. The General Assembly of ICMI consists of the members of the Executive Committee and the National Representatives. The General Assembly meets during the International Congress on Mathematical Education.
A major event in the life of the international mathematics education community, the quadrennial International Congress on Mathematical Education, ICME, is held under the auspices of ICMI and typically gather more than three thousands participants from all over the world. The ICMI Executive Committee is responsible for the selection of a site for an ICME as well as for the appointment of International Programme Committee, in charge of the scientific content of the congress. The practical and financial organisation of an ICME is the independent responsibility of a Local (or National) Organising Committee, under the observation of general ICMI principles. Apart from the ICME congresses, the Commission organises or supports various activities, such as the ICMI Study Programme, in which each Study, built around an international seminar, aims at investigating issues or topics of particular significance in contemporary mathematics education and is directed towards the preparation of a published volume intended to promote and assist discussion and action at the international, national, regional or institutional level; the ICMI Regional Conferences, supported by ICMI morally and sometimes financially in order to facilitate the organisation of regional meetings on mathematics education, especially in less affluent parts of the world; or the ICMI Solidarity Project, aiming at increasing the commitment and involvement of mathematics educators around the world in order to help the furtherance of mathematics education in those parts of the world where there is a need for it that justifies international assistance and where the economic and socio-political contexts do not permit adequate and autonomous development. More recently, ICMI has initiated collaboration with ICSU Committee on Capacity Building in Science.
The Commission may approve the affiliation to ICMI of Study Groups, focussing on a specific field of interest and study in mathematics education consistent with the aims of the Commission. The current Study Groups affiliated to ICMI are the International Study Group on the Relations between the History and Pedagogy of Mathematics (HPM), the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME), the International Organization of Women and Mathematics Education (IOWME) and the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions (WFNMC).
The official organ of ICMI since its inception is the international journal L'Enseignement Mathématique, founded in 1899. ICMI also publishes, under the editorship of the Secretary, the ICMI Bulletin, appearing twice a year. The Bulletin is accessible on the internet at the address http://www.mathunion.org/ICMI/, where more information about ICMI can also be found.
The principal source of ICMI's finances is the support it receives from IMU. But one of the greatest strengths of ICMI is the time contributed freely by the hundreds of mathematicians and mathematics educators committed to the objectives of the Commission.