South African to chair international maths commission

26th July 2016 By: Megan van Wyngaardt - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) has appointed local mathematics educator and University of the Witwatersrand(Wits) Professor Jill Adleras its president.

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

Further, the ICMI also 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.

“Wits 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,” Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Adam Habib said on Tuesday.

Adler has received numerous accolades for her work, starting with her 1990s research on the inherent dilemmas of teaching mathematics in multilingual classrooms.

She has spearheaded several large-scale teacher development projects, most recently the Wits Maths Connect Secondary project, which began in 2010.

This project aims, through professional development with teachers, to improve mathematics teaching practise at the secondary level and enable more learners from disadvantaged communities to qualify for mathematics-related courses at university.

Adler also holds the South African Research Chairs Initiative Chair of Mathematics Education in the Wits School of Education and made history as the first educator to be awarded an A-rating by the National Research Foundation.

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.