Revitalizing Knowledge - Indigenous Education

Education programmes provide important tools for human development, but they may also compromise the transmission of indigenous knowledge.

With formal education, children spend much time learning passively in classroom settings, rather than engaged in hands-on learning on the land. Teachers replace parents and elders as the holders of knowledge and authority. National languages become the medium of instruction, while vernacular languages are sidelined. Formal education may therefore contribute to an erosion of cultural diversity, a loss of social cohesion and the alienation and disorientation of indigenous youth.

There is an urgent need to enhance the intergenerational transmission of indigenous knowledge, as a complement to mainstream education. Efforts are now being made to bring indigenous language and knowledge into school curricula, and to move learning back into the community, thus reaffirming the status of elders as knowledge holders.

Projects

Mayangna – Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, Nicaragua

In recent decades, recognition of the intimate relationship between people and places has grown so that cultural diversity is acknowledged as a crucial factor in maintaining the world’s biodiversity. Yet still today, innumerable conservation initiatives remain mired in a dualistic vision that opposes humans and nature.

Village-level Documentation and Transmission of Local Environmental Knowledge using online communication tools, Solomon Islands
This Pilot Project was intended as a practical demonstration and testing of the role of educational material in vernacular language for fostering the transmission and development of indigenous environmental knowledge through dialogue across generations, from a primary anchorage in the school system that highlights the connections between local knowledge and science.

Strengthening indigenous knowledge and traditional resource management through schools in Vanuatu
Indigenous knowledge has gained widespread international recognition as a critical factor for the preservation of both cultural and biological diversity. But what use is recognition, if traditional knowledge does not remain alive and vibrant within indigenous communities?

Cree First Nations of James Bay, Quebec, Canada
Canada's 'bush schools' project has been chosen on a new list, Harmony, which recognizes cultural practices that contribute, in a sustainable manner, to improved quality of life.'Walking Out' is a Cree ceremony that celebrates the moment when a child walks outside for the very first time.

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