Network function central to new Expertise Point for Mathematics

“Milestone in strengthening mathematics education," says outgoing minister Paul at launch

The new Expertise Point for Mathematics was opened last Friday at Utrecht University. With an allocation of 2.9 million euros for a period of five years, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is sending a clear signal about the importance of strengthening mathematics education for students at all school levels in the Netherlands. “The launch of the Expertise Point is a milestone in strengthening arithmetic and mathematics education,” said outgoing Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Mariëlle Paul.

Minister Paul knipt de Möbiusband door om het Expertisepunt te openen
Minister Paul cuts the Möbius band to open the Expertise Point.

During the festive opening meeting at the Academy Building in Utrecht, Minister Paul emphasised the importance of good maths education to be able to participate in society. To officially open the Expertise Point, the minister did not cut the traditional ribbon, but a Möbiusband. The Möbiusband has the special feature that the front and back merge into each other. This symbolises the Expertise Point: theory and practice, research and education, are inextricably linked and merge naturally.

Demissionair minister Mariëlle Paul, met links van haar prof. Paul Drijvers.
Demissionary minister Mariëlle Paul, with Prof. Paul Drijvers to her left.

Network function

“There is an enormous amount of knowledge and expertise in the field of mathematics education in the Netherlands,” says Paul Drijvers, Professor of Mathematics Education at Utrecht University and project leader of the Expertise Point. “But the field is so diverse that parties do not always know how to find each other. The main mission of the Expertise Point is therefore to bring together questions and knowledge.”

With this network function, the Expertise Point positions itself as a centre of knowledge and expertise in the field of basic skills in mathematics. To ensure that essential basic skills are firmly embedded in education, the Expertise Point works closely with teachers’ associations and teacher training institutes. It will also act as a knowledge broker for teachers, lecturers, researchers, teacher trainers, policy makers and other stakeholders.

Future-proof foundation

Basic skills are an important theme within the Expertise Point. “There is no clear picture of what exactly the essential basic skills are in mathematics,” says Prof Drijvers. “Moreover, these basic skills will not stay the same forever. As part of our mission, we will also investigate which basic skills are currently crucial to provide students at all school levels with a future-proof foundation in mathematics.”