Indigenous Knowledge and Knowledge Transmission

Revitalizing Knowledge - Indigenous Education

Education programmes provide important tools for human development, but they may also compromise the transmission of indigenous knowledge.

With formal education, children spend much time learning passively in classroom settings, rather than engaged in hands-on learning on the land. Teachers replace parents and elders as the holders of knowledge and authority. National languages become the medium of instruction, while vernacular languages are sidelined. Formal education may therefore contribute to an erosion of cultural diversity, a loss of social cohesion and the alienation and disorientation of indigenous youth.

There is an urgent need to enhance the intergenerational transmission of indigenous knowledge, as a complement to mainstream education. Efforts are now being made to bring indigenous language and knowledge into school curricula, and to move learning back into the community, thus reaffirming the status of elders as knowledge holders.