Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education
The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 has set an ambitious new agenda to build a world of dignity for all, in respect of the planet.
This agenda recognizes, for the first time at this level, indigenous peoples as distinct groups, and their role in global efforts to build a better future for all.
On this occasion, we pay tribute to the world’s 370 million indigenous people, and we reaffirm UNESCO’s determination to safeguard and promote their identities, languages and knowledge systems. Indigenous peoples are custodians to rich cultural diversity, carrying unique wisdom of sustainable living and respect for biodiversity. Nurturing and harnessing this potential calls for inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Too many indigenous peoples are still denied the full right to quality education.
Children of indigenous people remain less likely to be enrolled in school and more likely to underperform than non-indigenous children. Linked with socio-economic and cultural barriers, this marginalization often creates a vicious circle of disadvantage. This moral and development gap undermines humanity as a whole.
The right to education is fundamental, as stipulated in UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) and the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960). Indigenous knowledge systems hold many answers to mitigating the consequences of climate change, and UNESCO will continue to draw on these to bolster scientific cooperation for biodiversity as well as education for sustainable development.
Our key challenge is to bring this wealth of knowledge and culture together for the benefit of all, in full respect of human rights. This is UNESCO’s mandate, and this is our renewed pledge on this International Day.
About the Day
The International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, celebrated each year on 9 August, marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
- Special event at UN Headquarters
09 August 2016, New York, USA
- 5th International Conference on Language and Education:
Sustainable Development through Multilingual Education
19-21 October 2016, Bangkok, Thailand
Indigenous Peoples & the United Nations...
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- ILO Convention Nr. 169 on the Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples
- United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
- Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
- UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples
- Outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
- International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Languages
SDG 4: Inclusive and quality education and lifelong learning
Right to education
Mother tongue and multilingual education
Indigenous knowledge transmission
Education for pastoralist and nomadic communities
Te Puna Reo o Nga Kakano (New Zealand)
Using traditional Māori knowledge and practices to address contemporary social and environmental issues in New Zealand.
Our language and way of life: how young children learn at the Mae Tien ECD Centre (Thailand)
This video reflects the pedagogical approach used in ECD programmes which is underpinned by a concern for protecting and preserving cultural heritage in ethnic minority communities and engaging community members in formal learning.