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International presidency for Adler

- Wits University

Professor Jill Adler has been appointed president of a leading international maths research organisation with 94 member countries.

South African maths educator and Wits Professor Jill Adler has been recognised by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) with two distinct honours – the position of president and the prestigious Hans Freduenthal medal for research.

The ICMI has elected Adler, a National Research Foundation A-rated scientist, to steer this influential body founded in 1908. The announcement was made at the annual general meeting in Hamburg, where the 13th International Congress on Mathematics Education is taking place.

Adler is the first African to lead the ICMI and she will serve in this position until 2020. She succeeds Ferdinando Arzarello from Italy.

Furthermore, the ICMI has awarded Adler the Hans Freudenthal Medal for outstanding achievement in mathematics education. The award recognises a major cumulative programme of research and is named after the eighth president of ICMI (1967-1970).

An elated Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Adam Habib says: “Wits University is extremely proud of the achievement of Professor Adler in the important field of maths education. This is a significant milestone for South Africa and the continent.” 

The Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa and the South African Mathematical Society were among the first institutions to congratulate Adler on her appointment. 

About Jill Adler, a Wits School of Education Academic: 

A national asset of note, Adler has received numerous accolades for her work, starting with the 1990s ground-breaking and socio-culturally relevant research on the inherent dilemmas of teaching mathematics in multilingual classrooms.

She has spearheaded several large-scale teacher development projects, most recently (and current) the Wits Maths Connect Secondary project, which began in 2010. This project aims, through professional development with teachers, to improve mathematics teaching practice at the secondary level and so enable more learners from disadvantaged communities to qualify for mathematics-related courses at university.

A scholar of impact, Adler’s book, entitled: Teaching mathematics in multilingual classrooms was instrumental in leading research internationally in the field. Her more recent work on mathematics teacher education has been published in French and Portuguese. She has made an enormous contribution to research capacity development working with research teams and graduate students, particularly in southern Africa. 

Adler holds the SARCHI Chair of Mathematics Education in the Wits School of Education. She made history as the first educator to be awarded an A-rating by the National Research Foundation; A-ratings normally being awarded to academics from science disciplines. Adler is also the recipient of the 2012 prestigious gold medal for science in the service of society.awarded by the Academy of Science of South Africa.

About the ICMI

The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction, ICMI, is a commission of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), an international nongovernmental and nonprofitmaking scientific organisation with the purpose of promoting international cooperation in mathematics. Among international organisations devoted to mathematics education, ICMI is distinctive because of its close ties to both the mathematics and the mathematics education professional communities, as well as for its breadth — thematic, cultural, and regional. It boasts 94 member countries.

 The Commission aims today to offer educational researchers, curriculum designers, educational policy makers, mathematicians, mathematics educators and others interested in mathematical education, a forum to promote reflection, collaboration, exchange and dissemination of ideas and information on all aspects of the theory and practice of contemporary mathematical education. ICMI develops 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.