UBC Mathematics Department Initiatives in Aboriginal Education
Over the last few years, the UBC (Vancouver) Mathematics Department has been increasing its support of a number of initiatives designed to enhance mathematics education for Aboriginal students in BC, and particularly in the Metro Vancouver area. Our activities are focused on after school workshops and tutorials for students, professional development workshops for teachers, and pre-service training for teachers. We aim to enhance the math training for Aboriginal students on several critical fronts.
- Improving access to the wide range of university programs that require Mathematics by providing opportunities for Aboriginal students to improve their math skills.
- Supporting teachers in elementary and secondary schools to find more effective ways of teaching Mathematics.
- Creating opportunities for UBC undergraduates to take Mathematics courses for prospective teachers that focus on the needs of Aboriginal students.
- Providing opportunities for UBC undergraduates to work regularly with Aboriginal students in BC schools.
The Larger Picture
There is a crisis in Aboriginal mathematics education in British Columbia. Aboriginal students make
up over 10% of the school-age population in BC, with that percentage increasing steadily. Yet only 2%
of BC Aboriginal students complete Principles of Math (POM) 12, the required level of mathematics in
the high schools to enter most university programs, as compared to more than 25% over all completion
of this course, and even then success in UBC programs is challenging for Aboriginal students. What is
noteworthy is that this problem appears to be most serious in Vancouver area schools.
Support of Math Initiatives in Aboriginal Education
UBC Mathematics plays a part in a much larger effort of Aboriginal Math Education in Vancouver and BC, with some key contributors. For example:
- The Pacific Institute for the Mathematics Sciences (PIMS), supports year-round activities for elementary and high schools.
- The Native Indian Teacher Education Program (NITEP), at UBC, supports the expansion of pre-service training for teachers.
- The Vancouver Foundation provided generous seed funding for teacher professional development in 2007-09.
- Melania Alvarez, Math Outreach Coordinator and PIMS BC Education Coordinator, has led the expansion efforts of after school tutorials at schools in Vancouver. Students for these activities have been recruited by Melania and George Bluman (UBC Math Faculty).
- The local schools have developed a variety of programs; for example, teachers and principals at Britannia Secondary have supported Aboriginal learners over a number of years in coordination with UBC and others. More recently Point Grey Elementary has developed afterschool activies in coordination with UBC and the Musqueam Community.
- The Native Education College is supporting efforts of teachers at a variety of schools, in cooperation with Rahael Jalan.
- Mark MacLean (UBC Math Faculty) and Melania Alvarez have led the expansion of professional development activities for teachers.