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At the pre‐primary level, the focus should be on the development of early numeracy skills, including counting, order, dates, and shapes.

Early Math and Science Education

Latin American and Caribbean region is facing a profound crisis in numeracy education. The region is falling short of goals set by the national governments for proficiency in mathematics and science. Even after controlling for per capita GDP, students in the region perform below students in OECD and East Asian countries on international standardized tests. The Latin American countries participating in the secondary education Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) are all among the weakest performers. These meager student outcomes are the result of both a lack of teachers with a background in mathematics and natural science and outdated curricula and pedagogical models.

These problems cannot be resolved using simple short-term fixes. This is why the IDB has a long-term investment in pedagogical models that are engaging; support of mathematics and science teachers, developing their content knowledge and pedagogical practices; and assessment systems that adequately reflect the outcomes and objectives to which we aspire with regard to numeracy education.

The IDB’s work spans preprimary and primary education through secondary education. At the pre‐primary level, the focus is on the development of early numeracy skills, including counting, order, dates, and shapes. At the primary level, our focus is on quantitative literacy and reasoning to ensure that primary-aged children can reason quantitatively, and demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method and acquaintance with achievements in science. To achieve measurable improvements in student learning at the secondary level, we focus on the development of lifelong problem-solving and reasoning skills for transition to working life or further studies.


A stack of magazines on a white background. Knowledge - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

Our digital library offers information and analyses of the state of early mathematics and science education in Latin America and the Caribbean; as well as the work of the IDB and our partners to explore what works to improve learning, reduce math anxiety and boost the sense of belonging in the STEM fields.

The Pedagogy of Science and Environment: Experimental Evidence from Peru
The State of Numeracy Education in Latin America and the Caribbean
Beyond Chalk and Talk: Experimental Math and Science Education in Argentina
IDB Briefly Noted: No. 9 Less talk, More Play: Bolstering Math Learning in Argentina
All Children Count: Early Mathematics and Science Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: Overview Report
Leading the Way to Math and Science Success: Challenges and Triumphs in Paraguay: New research from the Inter-American Development Bank on the promotion of critical thinking in preprimary and primary Education
Planting the early math seed

Teaching early math to the youngest children is important to ensure that they have the necessary skills to develop successfully in the future.

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