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.


The Canoe Is the People: Indigenous Navigation in the Pacific

Thousands of years ago, when most European sailors were still hugging the coast, the island peoples of the Pacific held the knowledge and skills to explore the great ocean paths around and beyond their homes. Voyage into this Educational Resource Pack to find out how.

Reef and Rainforest: An Environmental Encyclopedia of Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands

Reef and Rainforest proposes a voyage of discovery into the lives of the Marovo people. Written first and foremost for the use of the Marovo people, many wise elders of the villages and other local experts on reef and rainforest provided, checked, verified and expanded the names and stories contained in this encyclopedia. Available as a book and as a wiki, the project is a practical demonstration of how educational material in vernacular language fosters transmission and development of indigenous environmental knowledge across generations.

Reinforcing the Transmission of Mayangna Language, Culture and Knowledge in the BOSAWAS Biosphere Reserve

The BOSAWAS Biosphere reserve in north-central Nicaragua is one of the centrepieces of the 'Heart of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor'. This territory is also the home of the indigenous Mayangna, or Sumu, people, who have lived here for centuries. To promote transmission of their intricate and extensive knowledge of the local flora and fauna, they embarked on a documentation project that expanded into the development of a curriculum and pedagogical materials that would promote Mayangna knowledge, culture and language in the classroom.

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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