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

© Menuka Scetbon-Didi
Mayangna man bow-fishing (Nicaragua)

"These classroom materials strengthen our children, they open up the knowledge of indigenous peoples. We value that they are in accordance with our Mayangna reality, they speak of and reflect customs and traditions that must be further reinforced." - Mayangna community member

Like many other indigenous peoples, the Mayangna people of the BOSAWAS Biosphere Reserve, Nicaragua are concerned about the erosion of their culture, language and knowledge. They therefore requested the support of UNESCO’s Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) programme to reinforce their transmission. During the launch of the UNESCO book “Mayangna Knowledge of the Interdependence of People and Nature: Fishes and Turtles”, Mayangna leaders requested the further support of UNESCO to integrate the contents of the book into the Mayangna formal education system (for more on the documentation component of the Mayangna project, please go here).

With the support of the Norwegian Royal Embassy and the Swiss Agency for Development and cooperation, UNESCO, in partnership with Nicaragua’s Ministry of Education and the regional Secretariat for Education of the Autonomous Region, developed pedagogical materials that would support the transmission of Mayangna knowledge, culture and language in the classroom, but would also encourage and catalyse interactions and discussions between students and their families and communities about the value of such knowledge and culture in the lives of contemporary Mayangna people.

This project culminated in early 2016 when UNESCO, in collaboration with Nicaragua’s National Commission for UNESCO, launched preschool and third grade pedagogical materials in the Mayangna language, which were co-written and co-designed by Mayangna education professionals. The event was held at the Escuela Normal in Matagalpa, Nicaragua and was followed by a three-day capacity-building workshop with almost 100 Mayangna teachers, supervisors and Ministry of Education staff and officials.

The collaborative and consultative methodology used to develop the materials has engaged a wide range of Mayangna experts, teachers, students, leaders, parents and community members in the process of indigenous education, including raising awareness about the importance of Mayangna knowledge for Mayangna identity formation and community cohesion.

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