The inaugural session for the 10th International Mathematics and Education Society Conference was held on 28th January, 2019 Savithibai Phule auditorium, University of Hyderabad. People from over 20 countries participated in this 5 day conference. Interestingly this is the first time that an MES conference is being conducted on this continent. The main idea of Mathematics and Education society is to focus on the social, political and ethical dimensions of mathematical education. MES conference is held in every two years. The last session was held in Volos, Greece in the year 2017.
Dr.Jayasree Subramanian, Chair for MES 10 began the session with a welcome note. She remarked that it was her dream to bring MES to India and the concern of MES is extremely dear to her as it stresses on community building. A society like MES which has deep focus on research is extremely important for a country like ours which is so diverse in terms of caste, regions, gender, language etc.
Professor Prajit K. Basu, Co Chair MES 10, acknowledged the enormous help that the University has extended to the MES and thanked the Vice Chancellor, the University administration, and everyone who made the event possible.
The welcome note was followed by an address by Prof. Prakash Babu, Pro Vice Chancellor of the university. He welcomed everyone and said it’s a great privilege to be associated with this conference, a unique conference as this. Remarking humorously upon the conference name he said, “I am not at all a Mathematics person so I joined Biology”. With this he declared the conference open.
Dr. B Sheshu Kumari, an alumnus of the 83 batch of Mathematics department of the University of Hyderabad and Present Director of State Council of Education Research and Training, Telangana government spoke on the problems associated with mathematical learning. She remarked that universally there is a greater fear associated with failing in Maths exam all over the world. Also there is no association between practical experiences of young children and that of classroom teaching.
Dr. Beth Herbel – Eisenmann, Associate Professor at Michigan State University and convener of the MES extended her vote of thanks to the University of Hyderabad and Dr Jayasree Subrahmaniam for organizing the event.
The conference was then addressed by Dr. R S Praveen Kumar, an IPS Officer and Secretary of Telangana Residential Education Society. Tracing four major issues in mathematical learning in the society he urged the conference members to find solution to them. These issues are: (1) democratisation of subjects like Mathematics and Physics; (2) making these subjects as accessible and enjoyable as possible; (3) removing the stereotypes of Math and non-Math types among students; and bringing Mathematical teaching to the community.
The inaugural address was delivered by Professor K. Lakshmi Narayana, Department of Economics, University of Hyderabad. He highlighted the systematic and systemic discrimination of marginalized people along caste dimension. And this discrimination has led to keeping the marginalized groups away from most knowledge claims including knowledge of Mathematics and that is pernicious. The last address for the day titled “Rethinking Mathematics Education in the changing context of Education sector in India” was delivered by Professor Farida Khan of Jamia Millia Islamia University. She traced the history of the role of Indian State in making education accessible to all in principle as an instrument of development in the last seventy years and pointed out that liberalization of education has led to state’s withdrawing from the arena and thus reducing the possibility of the disadvantaged groups getting a good and wholesome education. She raised questions about what place Mathematics education will have in this context and also what kinds of Mathematics disadvantaged groups will have access to. The session was followed by dinner at the Zakir Hussain Complex.
-Zeenat Shana, Department of Communication