International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples: Protect Their Right to Education
By admin August 9, 2016

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International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, celebrated each year on August 9 since 1994, marks the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Population in 1982. This year’s theme focuses on the right to education.

The right of indigenous peoples to education has been mentioned in several international documents. Article 14 of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.” Other international human rights instruments such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights also serve to protect the right of indigenous peoples to education.

However, the right to education has not been fully realized for most indigenous peoples. Consistent and persistent gaps still exist between indigenous people and the majority population in terms of educational access, retention and achievement – across all regions of the world. Barriers to education for indigenous people include stigmatization of indigenous identity and low self-esteem of indigenous learners; discriminatory and racist attitudes in the school environment, including in textbooks and materials and among non-indigenous students and teachers; language barriers between indigenous learners and teachers; inadequate resources and low prioritization of education for indigenous peoples, reflected in poorly trained teachers, as well as lack of textbooks and resources. Additionally, when states and religious denominations developed formal education for indigenous peoples, indigenous cultures, languages and practices were often ignored or discouraged, which jeopardizes their own knowledge systems and values.

In order to further address the right of indigenous peoples to education, the UN has generated several initiatives to address the inequality gap:

  • Efforts should be made to ensure that indigenous peoples have access to education that is culturally and linguistically appropriate and that does not aim at or result in unwanted assimilation;
  • Instruction in the mother-tongue language is recommended for indigenous children, youth and adults. Where indigenous language is not the mother language (i.e. where the language is not being transmitted), language revitalization programmes should be integrated into the education system;
  • The educational attainment of indigenous women and girls often lags behind that of other segments of the population. Special priority must be given to ensuring that indigenous women and girls have access to and benefit from education;
  • Second chance, vocational training and adult literacy education programmes are an important element of inclusive education with many long-lasting benefits for indigenous peoples.

UN Women also works with indigenous women around the world, ensuring that gender mainstreaming is a large component in addressing the communities’ rights and amplifying their voices.

With efforts from different parties, we believe that right of indigenous peoples to education will be better protected in the future.

For more information:

Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples – 9 August

 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

UNESCO Page – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2016

Djarlgarra Bush School: On-Country Learning (Australia)


Thanks for sharing !

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