- The article explores the following four questions:

- Mathematics grows as it addresses questions and problems arising from within its own self-referential system(s), but increasingly it also advances as a discipline as it is applied to a diversity of problems in society, from everyday life to warfare and to poverty. D’Ambrosio (1994), points out the paradox in which mathematics is centrally implicated:

- The question of how mathematics participates or is recruited in this is explained by Skovsmose (1994), through what he calls the ‘formatting power of mathematics’:

- Whilst mathematics educators have arguably not focused on developmental challenges, research and literature on the nature and extent of such challenges is emerging from outside mathematics education. The World Bank’s World Development Report on equity and development (World Bank, 2006) offered the following South African narrative, which illustrates the complexity of engaging development contexts:

- Both conflict and dialogue are needed in a pedagogy that attends to issues of democracy and development from a critical perspective. In South Africa, Nthabiseng and Pieter may well find themselves in the same mathematics classroom. However, they are arguably more likely to find themselves in a school where one or the other dominates:

- Powell and Frankenstein (1997) outline the main goal of ethnomathematics as challenging the particular ways in which Eurocentrism permeates mathematics education

- Bishop (1988) concludes that

- D’Ambrosio (1985), as a founder of ethnomathematics, has argued that there are many mathematics, of which academics mathematics is but one, and these mathematics are developed by different sociocultural groups – from engineering mathematics to the mathematics of basket weaving. For him, ‘Mathematics … are epistemological systems in their socio-cultural and historical perspectives’ (D’Ambrosio, 1991, p. 374):

- The role of ‘acknowledgement’ in restoring dignity lies in the recognition that different cultures on every continent, in different periods of its history, have contributed mathematical knowledge. Acknowledging multiple histories is part of healing. The hegemony of Western or academic mathematics has been challenged for the ways in which conventional histories of mathematics have ignored, marginalised, devalued or distorted the contributions of peoples and cultures outside Europe – of China, India, North Africa and the Arab world – to that mathematics that is referred to as academic or Western mathematics. Joseph (1991) points out that