ICMI has a substantive interest in ensuring that its resources and influence extend to any country that is able to mobilize the elements of its mathematics education enterprise to make productive use of this connection. In line with this goal, and cognizant of issues of ‘voice', is the building of connections and relationships across countries and communities of mathematics education. The following outlines ICMI's main work to enable developing countries' activities to become part of the international community of mathematics education represented by ICMI, through its regular activities and those of its Affiliated Study Groups, its Solidarity Fund program and its collaboration with other bodies, more especially with the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and with UNESCO.
Interests of developing countries in ICMEs are reflected through themes of some of the scientific programs, and through the choice of venue of the congresses. Participation of mathematics educators from developing countries in the congress is actively supported by the award of congress participation grants, financed through a “Solidarity Tax" built into the regular registration fees, as well as other specifically raised funds. For example, at ICME-9 in Japan, donations amounted to 8% of the total registration fees, and supported 96 participants from 37 countries.
The ICMI Executive Committee has followed a range of strategies with respect to the ICMI Studies to enable voice, participation and connection with developments, interests and concerns of mathematics education in developing countries. Central is the representation of experts from developing countries on the International Programme Committee in charge of the Study; moreover some of the Study conferences are taking place in developing or emerging countries. For example, the conference for ICMI Study 15, on Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, took place in Brazil in 2005; that for Study 17 on Technology took place in Vietnam in 2007; the Statistics Study conference (18) has taken place in Mexico in 2008. Choice of themes is also being extended to include interests and concerns of developing countries. For example, a Study (21) announced at ICME-11 in Mexico is focused on (Re)sourcing teaching and learning mathematics in multilingual contexts.
Regional conferences are key to extending ICMI resources and connecting with activity across many developing country contexts. Of particular interest here are the EARCOME, AFRICME, and EMF regional congresses.
ICMI currently has five Affiliated Study Groups (ASGs). Some AGSs have specific programs regarding developing countries. For example, the annual PME congress has a special fund, the Skemp Fund, which supports some participants from developing countries.
The ICMI Solidarity Fund was established by ICMI in 1992 on the proposal of its President Miguel de Guzmán. Its purpose is to help the development of mathematics education in countries in which there is a need for it that justifies international assistance. The Solidarity Fund is based on private contributions by individuals, associations, etc.
ICMI contributes to the work of the Commission for Developing Countries (CDC), an interim sub-committee of IMU in early 2008 with the mandate of deciding on the division of resources for developing countries between IMU's Commission on Development and Exchanges (CDE) and Developing Countries Strategy Group (DCSG), and designing a structure for a future Commission for Developing Countries to be presented at IMU's next General Assembly in 2010.
Many developing countries do not have an IMU membership and so, in agreement with its Terms of reference, the ICMI EC is looking into ways to make membership to ICMI possible especially for developing countries with some structured activity in mathematics education that could serve as a basis for an affiliation to ICMI.