IPA collaborates with local partners to implement research in Panama. In 2018, IPA partnered with the Ministry of Education (MoE) and Inter-American Development Bank to implement, evaluate, and scale-up an intercultural and bilingual education program for preschool students. Inspired by an IPA Paraguay evaluation, the MoE decided to adapt the intervention to meet the needs of the Ngäbe population. After two years, the program was scaled up with plans to replicate the model with other indigenous communities.
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.