The All-Russian Conference "Mathematics and Society. Mathematical Education at the Frontier of Centuries" (RCME) was held on September 19-22, 2000 in Dubna (Moscow region ), Russia. There were over 300 participants who came from places spread all over Russia. The specificity of this meeting was its intention for educators of both university and secondary school having almost equal proportion among the participants. The Executive Committee of ICMI has officially recognized this conference as an ICMI Regional Conference. The RCME Conference was supported by ICMI, the Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation), the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, the "Integraciya" Foundation.
The general purpose of the Conference was to elaborate the concept of mathematical education in universities and secondary schools in order to improve the quality of education in Russia as a whole and to rise mathematical education to a new level, meeting the consequences of the dramatic social and cultural changes of the last years. The short-term aim of RCME was claimed as to work out the recommendations on the structure and forms of math education, on teaching programs, textbooks, carrying out math Olympiads and other competitions. Among the tasks were to study and extend the achievements of current math education, to join forces of the best teachers and scientists in solving the arising difficult educational problems, to bring to light the advanced and gifted young people.
Among the organizers were: the Ministry of Education of Russia, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Education, the Moscow State University, ICMI, the Moscow Center for Continuous Mathematical Education (MCCME). The Conference was based in "Ratmino" (a resort near Dubna).
In its public address the Organizing Committee marked out mathematics as a special discipline being the base of sciences and the major tool for training the skills of problem solving and decision making. It was pointed out that math always had a priority in Russian education and its unique achievements, having no analogues in world's culture, deserves a special attention this time, when the intellectual part of the social life survives the lack of financing and State care.
The work of RCME was divided into two major sections, secondary and higher education, with subsections:
The head of the Program Committee was professor V.M. Tikhomirov (Moscow State University). Talks were correspondingly divided into plenary and sectional. Besides talks the Conference activities included Round tables on the urgent and most important problems of education. The overall attention was attracted by two major topics: a) the passage from final and entrance exams to general testing, b) the necessity of 12-year secondary school. The idea of 12-year school, originating from Russian officials, met the rejection of the overwhelming majority of speakers, which was clearly reflected in the Decisions of RCME. The general testing appeared even more problematic and the Conference contented itself in expressing a deep concern and recommended taking a special care in applying this new foreign technique on the grounds of Russia.
The geography of the Conference had about 40% share of participants from Moscow, and the location of the rest actually covered all the regions of Russia including a few foreign participants.
Before the opening of the Conference appeared in print the 400-page volume of Conference Thesis, which contains the account of most of the talks. There was also a publication of a series of scientific and educational brochures covering general math topics. The publication was carried out by MCCME. The publication of the Proceedings of RCME is forthcoming.
As a documentary outcome, the RCME has issued the Decision and the final Address, accepted by a vote of the delegates. In particular it was decided to assign to this meeting the number one, and to carry out such conferences on a regular basis. It was also decided to form, on the basis of the Organizing Committee of this RCME, the Public Commission on Mathematical Education, which will act between conferences as an advisory body. This Commission is currently charged with preparing suggestions on the project of creating the Russian Association of Mathematical Education. The President of Russia is asked to study the possibility of rising the salary of State educators. In an address to the Government there is a demand to make an independent expertise of the advisability of introducing the 12-year school and to ban the cutting down in the number of hours shared to mathematics in the secondary school.
The official web page of the Conference is http://www.mccme.ru/conf2000/, where more information can be found. The Organizing Committee can be reached at the address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vice-chairman of the RCME Organizing Committee
Moscow Centre for Continuous Mathematical Education (MCCME)
Bolshoy Vlasievskiy per., d. 11
121 002 Moscow, Russia