Indigenous Education

  • LifeMosaic work to support the propagation of education that is developed in indigenous territories; rooted in the knowledge systems and practices of the ancestors; and helping communities address the challenges of today. We have done this through exchanges and skill-shares, producing tools, mentoring pioneers, and supporting movements to develop their criteria for implementation. The aims of this programme are to:

    To share information about indigenous education initiatives in Asia and Latin America, their principles, learning systems, frameworks, institutional set-ups, curriculum development, and impacts on indigenous leadership and self-determined development.

    To grow and spread education that is developed in indigenous territories; rooted in the knowledge systems and practices of the ancestors; and helping communities address the challenges of today. 

    To strengthen the growing Indonesian indigenous education movement, particularly the founders and teachers of 25 new indigenous schools, and the 75 further schools planned in 2018-20.

    What is Indigenous Education?

    • Is unique to each people and each territory;
    • Begins with the vision of the elders and is rooted in the life and culture in the territory where it is developed;
    • Helps to restore the identity of indigenous youth;
    • Supports the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights, including their right to self-determined development;
    • Prepares the next generation of leaders; and supports the territory, its people, culture and nature to survive and thrive into the future. 

    Background to LifeMosaic’s Indigenous Education Work

    Since 2014, LifeMosaic has been researching indigenous schools and intercultural bilingual education systems around Asia and Latin America. That same year we also formed an Indonesian core team specialising on youth leadership, and supporting indigenous youth keen to take action to improve their own communities. We facilitated several ‘Next Generation Leadership Trainings' which led to critical awareness of the multiple crises indigenous peoples are facing, and also helped youth to identify what their calling was. After the training in 2015, three alumni started indigenous schools in their own and surrounding communities. In 2016, we convened a methodological retreat bringing together representatives from existing and new indigenous schools including indigenous educators from the Philippines, and a teacher from a peasant-farmer school. This led to the first Indonesian Declaration on Indigenous Education, and the schools being networked among themselves and with BPAN and AMAN. From this methodological retreat we bought out the film Back to the Village: Indigenous Education in Indonesia. The film was launched during an AMAN event on international indigenous peoples day to an audience including the Minister of Education and Culture who has been supportive of indigenous education. 

    After this the indigenous education foundation YP-MAN was constituted ensuring the full oversight and control of indigenous education within the indigenous movement.

    Since 2014, there are now over 25 new indigenous schools in Indonesia.

    Resource Toolkit on Indigenous Education

    LifeMosaic, together with partners AMAN and YP-MAN, has developed a toolkit of resources on Indigenous Education. These resources are aimed at an audience of indigenous teachers, new school organisers, facilitators, parents, community members and indigenous organisations.

    The resources help to inspire and train teachers setting up new indigenous education initiatives, and help to create debate and understanding about common principles of indigenous education as it has developed around the world.

    These resources in this toolkit are available in Indonesian and English languages and will be screened in many rural indigenous communities around Indonesia where indigenous schools are being discussed and opened.

    The toolkit includes:

    • A Booklet on Indigenous Education
    • 5 Videos showcasing inspirational examples of Indigenous Education initiatives
    • A Declaration on Indigenous Education in Indonesia - Cipta Gelar
    • A selection of resources on Indigenous Education by other filmmakers, educators and organisations.

    Pamuaan - Centre for Indigenous Peoples Education - Pamulaan is an indigenous university created for the indigenous youth of the Philippines. Its main task to create culturally appropriate and relevant degree level courses, producing indigenous graduates with knowledge and skills but still rooted in their own cultures.

    Tugdaan - AN INDIGENOUS SECONDARY SCHOOL - The TUGDAAN Mangyan Center for Learning and Development is an educational institution dedicated to serve the 8 Mangyan tribes of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, The Philippines. Tugdaan High School, for children aged 11-18, was set up in the community of Paitan in 1989 after many discussions with the elders who had reflected that they are being discriminated against and tricked by lowlanders and felt this was due to their education levels being very low. They developed their dream to educate their youth without compromising their deeply rooted cultural beliefs, knowledge and practices.

    Samabue – The seeds of indigenous education in Indonesia - Samabue Indigenous School was set up in 2016 in West Kalimantan.  It runs as an after-school club to serve indigenous children who attend the mainstream government run school and focusses on giving children a rooting in their own traditional knowledge and culture. Teachers are indigenous volunteers and local elders who foster communication between the generations.

    Misak Indigenous Education - Decolonising the Mind - The Misak indigenous people, from the south of Colombia, experienced almost complete cultural, territorial and linguistic loss, before taking back their ancestral lands in the 1970s, going on to rejuvenate their culture, reclaim their traditions and strengthen their autonomy. Today 95% of Misak speak their mother tongue. Nine out of ten youth who leave the territory, return. How have the Misak done this? And what role has their own indigenous education system played?

    Back to the Village - This film documents a gathering of indigenous educators from across Indonesia and the Philippines in Kaseputan Ciptegalar, West Java, Indonesia. They discuss the weakness of the current national education system and how this impacts indigenous communities. They also develop a vision, and begin to dream a future where indigenous education is culturally rooted in the knowledge systems and practices of their cultures. “It is important for us to start our own education - our indigenous education. So we are the ones who determine its methods, we are the ones who determine its contents, and all of this within our territory.” (Jhontoni Tarihoran, BPAN)


  • Samabue: The Seeds of Indigenous Education in Indonesia

    Samabue: The Seeds of Indigenous Education in Indonesia

    The seeds of indigenous education in Indonesia - Samabue Indigenous School was set up in 2016 in West Kalimantan. It runs as an after-school club to serve indigenous children who attend the mainstream government run school and focuses on giving children a rooting in their own traditional knowledge and culture. Teachers are indigenous volunteers and local elders who foster communication between the generations.


    Misak Education: Decolonising the Mind

    Misak Education: Decolonising the Mind

    The Misak indigenous people, from the south of Colombia, experienced almost complete cultural, territorial and linguistic loss, before taking back their ancestral lands in the 1970s, going on to rejuvenate their culture, reclaim their traditions and strengthen their autonomy. Today 95% of Misak speak their mother tongue. Nine out of ten youth who leave the territory, return. How have the Misak done this? And what role has their own indigenous education system played?


    PAMULAAN - Centre for Indigenous Peoples Education

    PAMULAAN - Centre for Indigenous Peoples Education

    Pamulaan - Centre for Indigenous Peoples Education - Pamulaan is an indigenous university created for the indigenous youth of the Philippines. Its main task to create culturally appropriate and relevant degree level courses, producing indigenous graduates with knowledge and skills but still rooted in their own cultures.


    TUGDAAN - An Indigenous High School

    TUGDAAN - An Indigenous High School

    The TUGDAAN Mangyan Center for Learning and Development is an educational institution dedicated to serve the 8 Mangyan tribes of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, The Philippines. Tugdaan High School, for children aged 11-18, was set up in the community of Paitan in 1989 after many discussions with the elders who had reflected that they are being discriminated against and tricked by lowlanders and felt this was due to their education levels being very low. They developed their dream to educate their youth without compromising their deeply rooted cultural beliefs, knowledge and practices.


    Back to the Village: Indigenous Education in Indonesia

    Back to the Village: Indigenous Education in Indonesia

    This film documents the gathering of indigenous educators from across Indonesia and the Philippines in Kaseputan Ciptegalar, West Java. They discussed the problems: “The existing education system teaches ‘ilmu pergi’ - the science of leaving.” (Sarno Maulana, Pasawahan school, West Java). And they developed a vision of the future: "It is important for us to start our own education - our indigenous education. So we are the ones who determine its methods, we are the ones who determine its contents, and all of this within our territory.” (Jhontoni Tarihoran, BPAN)



  • Indigenous Education News

    Native Language Schools Are Taking Back Education

    More than a century ago, the last fluent speakers of Wôpanâak passed away. Now this school is working to revive the language. (By Yes! Magazine)


    The Hawaiian language revival

    Reflections on Hawaii's inspirational native language revitalization movement (By Keala Carter: Source Intercontinental Cry)


    It’s a boat. It’s a school. It’s a livelihood booster

    Each year, during the monsoon season, millions of children in Bangladesh miss out on education when schools are forced to close because of flooding. (By Mohammed Rezwan)


    Cree app launched by the Athabasca Tribal Council to help preserve indigenous language

    The Athabasca Tribal Council wants to make sure indigenous languages are not lost. So they created an app to put language back into the hands of youth. (By Global News)


    Stop focusing on ‘the problem’ in Indigenous education, and start looking at learning opportunities

    An article encouraging us to look closer at the 'opportunity to learn gap in indigenous peoples schooling in Australia (By: The Conversation)


    1,000 Ata Manobo kids fail to enroll after DepEd closed IP school

    DepEd closes NGO-run school on accusations that it teaches the communist ideology and is strongly supported by the New People’s Army. (Philippines News Agency / interaksyon.com)


    India’s Barefoot College lights up the world

    In Rajasthan India, local women bring their villages to light. (Source Al Jazeera)


    A helpful education for life

    Teachers develop proposals for intercultural curriculum. (Latinamerican Press)


    Indigenous Education and the Prospects for Indigenous Survival

    Author Bartholomew Dean for Cultural Survival


    Importance of indigenous education highlighted in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

    The importance of educating youth in their own cultures, as well as using indigenous languages to educate them, was stressed today during the discussion on culture and education in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.



  • Documents and Downloads

    Tugdaan Indigenous High School

    Information about Tugdaan Mangyan Centre of Learning and Development, to accompany the Video - Tugdaan Indigenous High School (LifeMosaic 2018)

    Pamulaan Centre for Indigenous Peoples Education

    Pamulaan Centre for Indigenous Peoples Education - an overview of this inspirational indigenous university in Davao, The Philippines. This information accompanies the video Pamulaan Indigenous University. (LifeMosaic 2018)

    Grassroots Leadership and Popular Education in Indonesia: Introduction and Summary

    Grassroots Leadership and Popular Education in Indonesia is a new publication by LifeMosaic and The Samdhana Institute. The book sets out to analyse and recommend ways to support grassroots leadership development and popular education in order to strengthen movements for social and environmental change – in Indonesia and around the world. The book is for grassroots leaders, activists, educators and movement builders in Indonesia and beyond, for all those participating in systemic change towards a more equitable and sustainable future, with the hope that in these pages there is a spark that gives you energy on your journey. Please read this Introduction and Summary, the first chapter of the book to be serialised. (The Samdhana Institute / LifeMosaic, 2015)

    Pathways to Education Pamulaan Case Study

    PAMULAAN CENTER FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ EDUCATION: LEADING THE WAY

    Other videos

    Schooling the World

    An important film that sets out the nature of western educaction and the harm that it is inflicting on many indigenous cultures.


    The Forbidden Education

    The Forbidden Education is a documentary film that questions the logic of modern schooling -and our very understanding of education- by highlighting different and unconventional educational experiments that suggest the need of a new educational paradigm. The Forbidden Education aims to inspire thoughtful societal debate about the fundamental structure of school, encouraging the development of a comprehensive education centered on love, respect, freedom and learning.


    Iskay Yachay: Two Kinds of Knowledge

    This video brings the voices and minds of campesinos from Cusco, Peru. They explain what school they want for their children. What education is needed for life to flourish and for the strength of ancestral times to be carried over to new generations. Over the past decade the Nucleus for Andean Cultural Affirmation has been working in Cusco with groups of rural teachers and parents in order to attain an understanding of education and cultural diversity. The reflections they make on the way in which Andean children learn of both worlds, Western and Andean, lead them to unexpected conclusions that deserve to be listened to and taken into account.


    Do schools kill creativity? Ted Talk by Sir Ken Robinson

    Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.


    Interview with Mereana Taki on Learning

    Mereana Taki is an indigenous Maori. In this video she shares the Maori views of learning, intelligence, and child development.


    Education For a Sustainable Future

    Education For a Sustainable Future presents information on how today's practices in schools are socially unsustainable. The documentary film critically analyses what is considered socially relevant in a new education system which brings out the most potential in all of humanity whilst also detailing specific educational methods from a wide range of sources on how to nurture social skills, critical thinking techniques and a larger variety of important practices to positively reinforce from our earliest years onwards. It must be recognised that a sustainable education is one of the most critical components of any advanced society. Education For a Sustainable Future is an independent film production and has been uploaded online for free download and distribution. The views expressed in this documentary are not necessarily shared by the originators of source material presented.


    War on Kids

    Focusing on public education, The War on Kids demonstrates how American public schools have become modeled after prisons in response to fear and a burgeoning intolerance of youth. The oppressive environment that students are subjected to, coupled with brutal responses to any transgression including the drugging of children,are shown to have long-term repercussions beyond creating a generation of dysfunctional adults. Ultimately, democracy itself is under siege. The War on Kids is a documentary on Public Education in America. While several documentaries on schools have come out since The War on Kids, these films tend to be either propaganda for charter schools or look at symptoms without any appreciation or understanding of underlying issues. To be a great documentary, it is essential to do the necessary work and dig deeper to uncover the heart of the problems observed. The numerous failures and pathologies associated with school are predominantly due to its autocratic structure. Because no one wants to voluntarily relinquish power, this fundamental problem is never addressed or even recognized.


    Related links

    Pamulaan University for Indigenous Peoples’ Education

    The website for Pamulaan Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Education in Davao, Philippines

    Tugdaan Mangyan Center for Learning and Development

    The website of Tugdaan Indigenous High School in Mindanao, The Philippines

    Schooling the World

    Schooling the world is an enlightening film showing clearly how the modern system of education oppresses children, especially thise from indigenous and other culturally rooted communities.

    Colours of the Alphabet

    Colours of the Alphabet is a new feature documentary film on language and childhood in Africa, telling the story of three Zambian children and their families over two school terms, and asking the question: does the future have to be in English? When nearly 40% of the world’s population lack access to education in their own language, the film offers an intimate, moving and often humorous insight into a global phenomenon from the unique perspective of three innocent children.

    Alaskan Native Knoweldge Network

    A website dedicated to resources for compiling and exchanging information related to Alaska Native knowledge systems and ways of knowing.

    People for Education

    People for Education is a Canadian independent, non-partisan, charitable organization working to support and advance public education through research, policy, and public engagement.



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LifeMosaic is a Not for Profit Company Limited by Guarantee (Registered company number: SC300597) and a Charity Registered in Scotland (Scottish Charity number: SC040573)