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In this Image An IPA enumerator standing on the hills of Panama. © 2019 Gabriella Wong for IPA

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Research Findings

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The Impact of Bilingual Mathematics Education in Panama

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Ethnomathematics, an approach to teaching mathematics that incorporates local cultural understandings of mathematics, may improve student learning in indigenous communities. Researchers worked with IPA and the Inter-American Development Bank to conduct a randomized evaluation of an ethnomathematics program called JADENKÄ developed by Panama’s government for preschool students in the country’s Ngäbe-Buglé region. The program improved students’ mathematical and ethnomathematical skills, with the most salient positive impacts for Ngäbe students, suggesting that well designed ethnomathematics programs can reduce achievement gaps between indigenous and nonindigenous students without asking students to choose between their academic learning and their identity, culture, and language.

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