LifeMosaic Launches Indigenous Education Toolkit

Dayak Iban children of Sungai Utik during a Next Generation Leadership Training. Photo Credit: Simon Pabaras/LifeMosaic

Back to the Village: A Toolkit on Indigenous Education

LifeMosaic and YP-MAN (The Education Foundation of the Indigenous Peoples of the Indonesian Archipelago) are launching Back to the Village: A Toolkit on Indigenous Education. This toolkit is intended particularly for indigenous educators, for teachers in indigenous schools, and for those that are setting up new indigenous schools.

It is also of interest to civil servants and politicians in ministries of education, to those working on advocating for indigenous education policy, or to anyone that is interested in education that helps to sustain the diverse expressions of humanity.

The toolkit is dedicated to the remarkable Indonesian indigenous education movement has grown from just a handful of indigenous schools 4 years ago, to over 40 today, spread from North Sumatra to Papua. Most schools have been set up by volunteers, usually indigenous youth working closely with elders in their territories. This movement has been nurtured by AMAN, YP-MAN (The Education Foundation of the Indigenous Peoples of the Indonesian Archipelago), LifeMosaic and others.

The launch of the toolkit coincides with the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), whose theme this year is: Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission and protection. The toolkit is also a contribution to the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

“This toolkit on indigenous education helps us to take notice that our indigenous mother tongue language is under threat and could become extinct if we don’t take steps to protect it. It helps us to be more convinced to continue educating our children in our own language and using our own culture. We have now started to make a digital dictionary of our language.” Widie Nurmahmudy, Kampung Batara School - Banyuwangi, East Java.

What is in the toolkit?

The toolkit includes a book Indigenous Education: The Call of the Territory. The book provides an overview of indigenous education, and tells the story of how the Indonesian movement has developed. It also describes indigenous education initiatives in Latin America, the Philippines, and Indonesia, covering early childhood and primary age education, secondary, and tertiary education.

The toolkit also contains 5 films, including examples from exceptional indigenous educational initiatives:

Samabue: The Seeds of Indigenous Education in Indonesia a film showcasing one of the first of the recently set up indigenous schools in Indonesia.

Tugdaan – An Indigenous High School portrays an educational institution dedicated to serve the 8 Mangyan tribes of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, The Philippines. Tugdaan high school is 30 years old this year!

Pamulaan - Centre for Indigenous Peoples Education describes an indigenous university created for the indigenous youth of the Philippines.

Misak Education: Decolonising the Mind tells the story of how the Misak people in Colombia developed their own education system, from primary school through to university.

Back to the Village: Indigenous Education in Indonesia is an introductory film to indigenous education, based on a gathering of indigenous educators from across Indonesia and the Philippines in Kasepuhan Ciptagelar, West Java.

“This toolkit helps us to share the importance of indigenous education with parents and other people in our community to help them understand that strengthening culturally rooted education is so important. The toolkit is easy to use and we are holding a mobile screening every month so that more people will join and support us.”Noviansyah, Benakat Indigenous School teacher - South Sumatra.

Dayak Kanayatn girl, student at Sekolah Adat Samabue, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo Credit: Nanang Sujana/LifeMosaic

What is indigenous education?

“Indigenous Education is a kind of education that is rooted in indigenous peoples lives and cultures. […] indigenous education is the kind of education that puts indigenous culture as the foundation of learning and growing as a person.” Kring Sumalinab, Graduate from Pamulaan Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Education

Indigenous education is born from the territory and the ancestors. It is unique to each indigenous people, since it is rooted in the life and the culture of each indigenous people in their territory.

Indigenous education is key to keeping indigenous children and youth grounded in their unique cultures. There is a growing trend in Indonesia and in many other countries of decolonising educational systems, and rebuilding educational structures which allow indigenous knowledge, language, and cosmologies to be at the heart of their own educational experience.

At its heart, indigenous education includes the traditional learning systems, philosophies, and methodologies, that have ensured the transmission of indigenous knowledge and practices from generation to generation.

New forms of indigenous education are also emerging that also help indigenous peoples meet the challenges they face today. Such indigenous education initiatives are now established in over 20 Latin American countries, in Canada and the US, Australia and New Zealand, in Norway, and in the Philippines, to name but a few. Most recently, Indonesia is seeing rapid growth and development in indigenous education.

These new forms of culturally rooted indigenous education help indigenous children and youth to explore ways to remain connected to their territory, and create opportunities for them to think critically about the new challenges and threats faced by their people. This helps to prepare a new generation of indigenous leaders, deeply connected, ready to support their elders in protecting indigenous rights, cultures, and territories, and willing to explore and propose exciting new ways to take forward indigenous knowledge and practices while still following in the footsteps of the ancestors.

Dayak Iban children and youth of Sungai Utik learning about their territory. Photo Credit: Simon Pabaras/LifeMosaic

Why is indigenous education important?

Indigenous peoples around the world face multiple threats to their ancestral territories, their cultures, beliefs and languages. These threats include agro-industrial developments, extractive industries and rapid infrastructure development. Indigenous peoples are discriminated against, intimidated, criminalised, imprisoned and even killed when they assert their rights in the face of these developments. Many indigenous peoples are displaced from or lose access to their territories. Indigenous peoples face “great waves of change that systematically extinguish their history, and destroy their relationship with their ancestors.” Abdon Nababan, Director of YPMAN.

Current political structures, corporate power, and many national education systems act together to force the assimilation of indigenous peoples through cultural homogenisation. European systems for governing and learning were imposed on indigenous peoples during European colonialism, and later in many independent post-colonial countries. Today, national educational systems impose dominant languages and philosophies, and tend to teach homogenous national or global knowledge. In this process, thousands of knowledges and cultures are made invisible, or described as ignorant, obsolete, or backward.

Given these circumstances, the rise in indigenous education is a vital and creative solution to helping to safeguard the diverse set of locally-specific knowledge systems ensuring resilience in these times of rapid ecological and social change. Above all, indigenous education is needed to ensure the survival and transmission of knowledges and worldviews that uphold spirituality, abundance, balance, resilience, adaptability, sustainability, living within the carrying capacity, and making collective decisions for the benefit of all.

Students at Sekolah Adat Samabue, Menjalin, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo Credit: Nanang Sujana / LifeMosaic


Back to the Village: A Toolkit on Indigenous Education is availble in English and Indonesian

Related Project:

Indigenous Education

We 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.

Recent stories

LifeMosaic’s latest film now available in 8 languages

23rd Feb 2024
Indigenous communities around the world are hosting community screenings of the film 'Facing Extinction, Defending Life' to discuss the crisis on the world's climate, biodiversity and cultures and to vision community-led solutions.

การเผชิญหน้ากับการสูญพันธุ์ และการปกป้องวิถีชีวิต (Thai)

9th Oct 2023
ชุดวีดีทัศน์การเผชิญหน้ากับการสูญพันธ์ และการปกป้องวิถีชีวิต บอกเล่าเรื่องราวภัยคุกคามที่มีต่อความหลากหลายทางชีวภาพ ภาวะฉุกเฉินต่างๆที่กระทบต่อสภาพภูมิอากาศ และการทำลายความหลากหลายทางวัฒนธรรมที่เกิดขึ้นอย่างรวดเร็ว เรื่องราวที่เชื่อมโยงระหว่างกัน ต่อการสูญเสียซึ่งกำลังคุกคามต่อการดำรงอยู่ของมนุษย์โลก

© 2024 Copyright LifeMosaic
LifeMosaic is a Not for Profit Company Limited by Guarantee (Registered company number: SC300597) and a Charity Registered in Scotland (Scottish Charity number: SC040573)