Report Proposes More Support to Math and Science Training

Feb 15th, 1994 | By | 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.

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