Research Article

Mathematics Education in Ethiopia in the Era of COVID-19: Boosting Equitable Access for All Learners via Opportunity to Learning

Solomon Abedom Tesfamicael 1 * , Yenealem Ayalew 2 *
More Detail
1 Department of Teacher education, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), NORWAY2 Dire Dawa University, ETHIOPIA* Corresponding Author
Contemporary Mathematics and Science Education, 2(1), 2021, ep21005,
OPEN ACCESS   1563 Views   1643 Downloads
Download Full Text (PDF)


In the one hand, the world is not yet secured from COVID-19. On the other hand, educational planning is a continuous activity. The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is going to implement new curricula since 2021/22 academic year. So, what lessons or challenges could be derived from this era? This might be an opportunity for educators and researchers to forward inputs to the decision making bodies. In this article, the construct “opportunity to learning” (OTL) is taken as a parameter for addressing one of the goals of education: equitable access in mathematics education. This was done by adopting two frameworks: NCTM & NCSM (2020) and Walkowiak, Pinter, & Berry (2017). Finally, we come up with ten discussion points in order to boost the equitable access for all learners. Our work may serve as a position paper to inform curriculum implementers and educational material producers in countries like Ethiopia.


Tesfamicael, S. A., & Ayalew, Y. (2021). Mathematics Education in Ethiopia in the Era of COVID-19: Boosting Equitable Access for All Learners via Opportunity to Learning. Contemporary Mathematics and Science Education, 2(1), ep21005.


  1. Adamu, A. Y. (07 May 2020). COVID-19 - A Chance for Universities to Regain Public Trust? University World News. Retrieved from
  2. Ball, D. L., Thames, M. H., & Phelps, G. (2008). Content Knowledge for Teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 59(5), 389-407.
  3. Berry, R. Q. (2019). Advocacy: Let’s Work Together. NCTM. Retrieved from
  4. Blömeke S., Olsen R.V., & Suhl U. (2016) Relation of Student Achievement to the Quality of Their Teachers and Instructional Quality. In T. Nilsen, & J. E. Gustafsson (Eds.), Teacher Quality, Instructional Quality and Student Outcomes. IEA Research for Education (A Series of In-depth Analyses Based on Data of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)) (vol 2). Cham: Springer.
  5. Boaler, J. (1998). Open and Closed Mathematics: Student Experiences and Understandings. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 29(1), 41-62.
  6. Boaler, J., & Staples M. (2008). Creating Mathematical Futures through an Equitable Teaching Approach: The Case of Railside School. Teachers College Record, 110(3), 608-645.
  7. Cai et al. (2019). Exploring the impact of a problem-posing workshop on elementary school mathematics teachers’ problem posing and lesson design. International Journal of Educational Research, 102, 101404.
  8. Cai, J., Morris, A., Hohensee, C., Hwang, S., & Robison, V. (2020). Maximizing the Quality of Learning Opportunities for Every Student. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 51(1), 12-25.
  9. Carroll, J. (1963). A model of school learning. Teachers. College Record, 64(8), 723-723.
  10. Chapin, S. H., O’Connor, C., & Anderson, N. C. (2003). Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades 1-6. Math Solutions.
  11. Chigonga, B. (2020, 26 February). Formative Assessment in Mathematics Education in the Twenty-First Century. In K. G. Fomunyam (Ed.), Theorizing STEM Education in the 21st Century. IntechOpen.
  12. Davoli, M., & Entorf, H. (2018). The PISA Shock, Socioeconomic Inequality, and School Reforms in Germany. Bonn, Germany: Institute of Labor Economics.
  13. Fosnot, C. T., & Dolk, M. (2001). Young Mathematicians at work: Constructing Multiplication and Division. Westport, CT: Heinemann.
  14. Franke, M. L., Kazemi, E., & Battey, D. (2007). Mathematics teaching and classroom practice. In F. K. Lester (Ed.), Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 225-253). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
  15. Grønmo, L. S. (2010). Low Achievement in Mathematics in Compulsory School as Evidenced by TIMSS and PISA. In B. Sriraman, C. Bergsten, S. Goodchild, G. Pálsdóttir, B. Dahl, & L. Haapasalo (Eds.), The First Sourcebook on Nordic Research in Mathematics Education (pp. 49-69). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
  16. Hunzicker, J. L. (2010). Characteristics of effective professional development: a checklist. Retrieved from ERIC database (ED510366).
  17. Kazemi, E., & Hintz, A. (2014). Intentional talk: how to structure and lead productive mathematical discussions. Portland: Stenhouse Publishers.
  18. Kilpatrick, J. (1987). Problem formulating: Where do good problems come from? In A. H. Schoenfeld (Ed.), Cognitive science and mathematics education (pp. 123-147). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  19. Lampert, M., & Blunk, M. L. (1998). Talking mathematics in school: Studies of teaching and learning. NewYork: Cambridge University Press.
  20. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
  21. Lerman, S. (1996). Socio-cultural approaches to mathematics teaching and learning. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 31(1-2), 1-9.
  22. Lerman, S. (2000). The social turn in mathematics education research. In J. Boaler (Ed.), Multiple Perspectives on Mathematics Teaching and Learning (pp. 19-44). Westport, CT: Ablex.
  23. McAleavy, T., Gorgen, T. K., Rodney, R., & Proctor, J. (2020). Overview of emerging country-level response to providing educational continuity under COVID-19. Best practice in pedagogy for remote teaching. Part of our EdTech and coronavirus (COVID-19) series:
  24. Mulenga, E. M., & Marbán, J. M. (2020). IsCOVID-19 the gate way for digital learning in mathematics education? Contemporary Educational Technology, 12(2), ep269.
  25. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (2014). Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA: NCTM.
  26. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (1989). Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM.
  27. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (1991). Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM.
  28. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (1995). Assessment Standards for School Mathematics. Reston: NCTM.
  29. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM.
  30. NCSM, & NCTM. (2020, June). Moving Forward: Mathematics Learning in the Era of COVID-19. Retrieved on 7 September 2020 from
  31. Neubrand, M., Seago, N., Agudelo-Valderrama, C., DeBlois, L., Leikin, R., & Wood, T. (2009). The Balance of Teacher Knowledge: Mathematics and Pedagogy. In R. Even, & D. L. Ball (Eds.), The Professional Education and Development of Teachers of Mathematics (pp. 211-225). New ICMI Study Series, vol 11. Boston, MA: Springer.
  32. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2016). PISA 2015 results (Vol I): Excellence and Equity in Education. Paris: PISA, OECD Publishing.
  33. Radcliffe, J. S., Aaron, D. K., Sterle, J., Keyserlingk, M. A. G, Irlbeck, N., Maquivar, M., Wulster-Radcliffe, M., & Jones, C. (2020). Moving online: roadmap and long-term forecast. Animal Frontiers, 10(3), 36-45.
  34. Reimers, F. M., & Schleicher, A. (2020). A framework to guide an edu-cation response to the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020. OECD. Retrieved on 15 May 2020 from
  35. Silver, E. A. (1997). Fostering creativity through instruction rich in mathematical problem solving and problem posing. ZDM, 29, 78-80.
  36. Smith, M., & Stein, M. K. (2011). 5 practices for orchestrating productive mathematics discussions. Reston: NCTM.
  37. Stein, M. K., & Smith, M. S. (1998). Mathematical tasks as a framework for reflection: From research to practice. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 3(4), 268-275.
  38. Stein, M. K., Grover, B. W., & Henningsen, M. (1996). Building Student Capacity for Mathematical Thinking and Reasoning: An Analysis of Mathematical Tasks Used in Reform Classrooms. American Educational Research Journal, 33(2), 455-488.
  39. Tanton, J. (2020, 18 April). COVID-19 Exposes Mathematics Education Inadequacies: A modicum of (secret) relief for Educators. Retrieved from
  40. Tesfamicael, S. A. (2019). Discussion points for Reform in Mathematics education in Ethiopia. Making Science and Mathematics Teaching and Learning Impactful. International Conference on Science and Mathematics Education from October 23-24, 2019.
  41. Tesfamicael, S. A., Taye, D., Belay, G., Tulu, A., & Tesfay, A (2018). Comparative Study: The case of mathematics Teacher Preparation (MTP) programs in Norway and Ethiopia. AFRICME 5, 2018, International Mathematical Union (IMU); 29-31/08/2018.
  42. Tesfamicael, S., & Lundeby, Ø. (2019). A Comparative Study of Norwegian and Ethiopian Textbooks: The Case of Relations and Functions Using Anthropological Theory of Didactics (ATD). Universal Journal of Educational Research, 7(3), 754-765.
  43. Tesfamicael, S., Botten, G., & Lundeby, Ø. (2017). The teaching and learning of relations and functions: A comparative study of Norwegian and Ethiopian textbooks. Proceedings of CERME 10, Dublin, Ireland.
  44. Tiruneh, D. T. (2020, June). COVID-19 School Closures May Further Widen the Inequality Gaps between the Advantaged and the Disadvantaged in Ethiopia. Retrieved from
  45. Van Veen, K., Zwart, R. C., & Meirink, J. (2012). What makes teacher professional development effective? A literature review. In M. Kooy, & K. van Veen (Eds.), Teacher learning that matters: International perspectives (Routledge research in education, vol. 62, pp. 3-21). Routledge.
  46. Walkowiak, T. A., Pinter, H. H., & Berry, R. Q. (2017). A Reconceptualized Framework for ‘Opportunity to Learn’ in School Mathematics. Journal of Mathematics Education at Teachers College, 8(1), 7-18.
  47. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
  48. Wiliam, D. (2007). Keeping Learning on Track: Classroom Assessment and the Regulation of Learning. In F. K. Lester, Jr. (Ed.), Second Handbook of Mathematics Teaching and Learning (pp. 1053-1098). Charlotte, N.C.: Information Age.
  49. Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded Formative Assessment. Bloomington, Ind.: Solution Tree Press.
  50. Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W.-Y., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2007-No. 033). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest.