The Editorial starts out by complaining that only "certain aspects of mathematics or related to it, such as Computer Science, Information Theory, Statistics & Probability, Modelling, etc., have been established as worthy of support" by the governments of developing countries or the international organizations whose aim it is to help these countries, whereas mathematics as such has not. It then mentions some organizations which nevertheless do help mathematics there and claims that UNESCO is the main, if not the only, sponsor of the international organizations involved in this.
I disagree. The first statement seems to reflect a resentment felt by mathematicians working in some areas of mathematics against those concerned with other aspects, not unlike the grudge found frequently among pure mathematicians against applied ones (the author of the Editorial is himself an applied mathematician). It is not borne out by a broader, deeper and more differentiated analysis. A sample study of curricula and research programmes in developing countries reveals all too often a tendency towards building up in the first place fairly abstract mathematics and neglecting applied areas including some of those from the author's list above, e.g. statistics. This field finds indeed little support in spite of its profound mathematical content and the fact that it is one of the most needed mathematical domains. It is, by the way, precisely not pursued in the Department of Mathematics of the International Centre of Theoretical Physics mentioned by Ashour. Also, when I listened last year in Trieste to the lecture of the Deputy Director-General of UNESCO at the General Meeting of the Third World Academy of Sciences, it dawned on me that UNESCO could profit a lot from acquiring some more statistical methodology.
I do certainly not advocate reducing the support of pure mathematics, quite on the contrary (my own background stems from there), but instead of playing off some parts of mathematics against others we should try to further a harmonious and coordinated growth of all of them in developing countries. The problem is by no means restricted to mathematics : it is just one aspect of the strong dissociation of theory from practice observed on the scientific scene in many of these countries.
Regarding the international organizations mentioned in the Editorial, they are the larger ones with a strong "official" background. Their work has been extremely useful, UNESCO has invested its funds wisely by supporting them, and I hope that these activities will even grow in the future. I maintain, however, that, taken together, the work of smaller organizations of all kinds which had no support from United Nations bodies, and of dedicated individuals, has been more influential. Here we find governmental or semi-governmental institutions like Academic Exchange Offices and private foundations which then become de facto international organizations ; international learned societies like, in my field, the Biometric Society or the Bernoulli Society ; Third World minded groups in university departments of mathematics and governmental ministries of education, research or cooperation ; and individual mathematicians in developed countries who work with those of developing ones in their own institution or in those of their opposite numbers. Their funding comes from many sources and, added up, it is certainly far higher than what UNESCO can provide.
"My editorial, as its title indicates, is meant for, and only for, information (much needed) about the international agencies which provide funds and help for mathematics and mathematicians in the developing countries. I confined the article to facts and expressed no opinions of my own. I am therefore rather surprised by the reactions of Prof Krickeberg, who obviously misunderstood the editorial and its purpose.
N.B. There is a typing mistake in the first line of the editorial. The word 'enjoys' should read 'does not enjoy'."
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