Learning and Knowing in Indigenous Societies Today

The loss of their specialised knowledge of nature is a grave concern for many indigenous communities throughout the world. Education, as it is understood in a Western context, occupies a pivotal role in this process, highlighted by many as both a major cause of the decline of indigenous knowledge, and also as a potential remedy for its demise. Commendable efforts are being made to better align educational curricula with indigenous realities and to incorporate local knowledge and language content into school curricula, but the interrelationship and balance between these two different ways of learning remain delicate. These issues, and attempts to address them, are explored within the UNESCO publication Learning and Knowing in Indigenous Societies Today.

The book is organised into three sections. The first addresses the link between indigenous knowledge and indigenous language, and explores the opportunities this interconnection provides for understanding and countering declines in both. The second section examines how the loss of indigenous knowledge due to insensitive school programmes may be countered by integrating indigenous knowledge and languages into school curricula. The third section explores the need for the revitalisation of indigenous ways of learning, generally outside of a classroom environment, and how this may be practically viable in modern contexts.

The book was launched on 2 April 2009 in Bonn, Germany, on the occasion of the ‘UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development - Moving into the Second Half of the UN Decade’ (31 March - 2 April 2009). This conference took place five years into the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) for which UNESCO is the lead agency.

UNESCO, 2009, Learning and Knowing in Indigenous Societies Today.
Edited by P. Bates, M. Chiba, S. Kube & D. Nakashima, UNESCO: Paris, 128 pp.


To order a copy, email links(at)unesco.org
Download: the full publication [.PDF 7.5Mb]
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the Flyer (.PDF)



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