By LifeMosaic – Partner of the ICCA Consortium
This article is directly extracted from the LifeMosaic website
Back to the Village: A Toolkit on Indigenous Education
LifeMosaic, together with partners AMAN and YP-MAN, has developed a toolkit of resources on Indigenous Education. This toolkit is for indigenous educators, indigenous school initiators, or for anyone that is interested in education that helps sustain diverse expressions of humanity.
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.
The 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.
“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.
The toolkit includes:
A book 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.
Book – Indigenous Education – The Call of the Territory is a book dedicated to the dynamic and exciting Indonesian indigenous education movement. The book provides an overview of what indigenous education is and why it is needed; investigates the roots of the Indonesian indigenous education movement; and describes a wide variety of decolonising educational initiatives that place indigenous knowledge, language and cosmologies at the heart of the educational experience. (Serge Marti / LifeMosaic / YPMAN 2019)
Film – 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. (LifeMosaic 2019)
Film – 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. (LifeMosaic 2019)
Film – 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. (LifeMosaic 2019)
Film – 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? (LifeMosaic)
Film – 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 (LifeMosaic 2017)
Document – Declaration on Indigenous Education in Indonesia – Cipta Gelar – The Ciptagelar Declaration was written and adopted by 28 indigenous education activists and supporters during the first Indonesian methodological retreat on indigenous education.
“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.
A 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.
To support this dynamic and fast-growing movement, LifeMosaic and YP-MAN are launching Back to the Village: A Toolkit on Indigenous Education.
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 decolonizing 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.
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, criminalized, 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,
Current political structures, corporate power, and many national education systems act together to force the assimilation of indigenous peoples through cultural homogenization. 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.
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.
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 specializing 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.