Report Proposes More Support to Math and Science TrainingFeb 15th, 1994 | By tcj | Category: 5-4: Education, Tribal College News
Tribal colleges are eager to train students in math and the sciences, but are hampered by limited money, geographic isolation and poor student preparation, according to a new report from the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
In response, the report, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, offers 40 recommendations intended to strengthen the colleges, their faculty and students.
College administrators acknowledge that many opportunities are available for Indians trained in high technology fields. Contrary to stereotypes, they also believe Indian students are interested in math, science and computers.
However, the report concludes that severely limited funding restricts the work of tribal colleges. They are forced to work out of make-shift campuses and use outdated equipment. In addition, faculty are paid an average of 30 percent less than instructors at other community colleges, resulting in a higher turnover.
Geographic isolation also works against the colleges. Faculty are removed from their peers and students have fewer opportunities for internships and job-related summer work.
The report also acknowledges that many tribal college students arrive lacking math and science skills. In addition, it asserts that the math and science curriculum must be strengthened. Course work must be culturally-relevant, the report states, and able to prepare students for advanced study or work.
Recommendations propose greater support from the federal government, the National Science Foundation and other agencies. It also urges tribal colleges to collaborate with non-Indian colleges, universities and research centers that can provide opportunities for students and faculty.
Among its specific recommendations, the report proposes that:
- a student loan cancellation program be established for Indian students. Loans would be forgiven after a student teaches for four years in a tribal school or college;
- a faculty exchange program be created with non-tribal colleges. Also, it recommends that faculty be offered more opportunities for participation in professional workshops and collaboration with other tribal college faculty;
- each federal agency establish an “Indian Desk”;
- a student chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society be established on each tribal college.
The Report on the Development of Computing Science and Engineering at Tribally Controlled Community Colleges was directed by a seven-member steering committee. It included participation by faculty at several planning meetings, including a National Science foundation-funded conference held in October 1993.