Indigenous children of Peru with indigenous educators from Canada
What value do you place on indigenous education?
I want you to ask yourself as an educator, what value or place does indigenous education have in your school or workplace?
WIPCE 2011 (World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Education) had me asking myself this very question.
I know CORE Education understands the importance of indigenous education in the New Zealand education system. Their commitment and passion is obvious through their involvement in the PLD area of te reo Māori in English medium and Māori medium. Further proof of this is that they saw the value of supporting me to attend WIPCE this year.
Looking to our past to learn how to move forward: key learnings from WIPCE
What makes WIPCE so special is that it not only makes you look at your own context and beliefs, but it also presents you with new insights into indigenous education, with a stance of looking to our past to learn how to move into a brighter future.
The top five key learnings I have taken away from WIPCE are (and it was hard to limit it to 5):
- The impact of colonisation is something tangible and real and must be identified and discussed openly before moving forward.
- Until the New Zealand education system better addresses the misconceptions around the Treaty of Waitangi, and explicitly teaches our tamariki about its importance and relevance to our nation’s history, we will continue to have conflict and prejudice about its worth and value.
- The struggles in equality for indigenous education are the same the world around.
- Ko te reo te mauri o te mana tangata whenua – the language is the life-force of indigenous people. Indigenous education must be steeped in the language of the indigenous people.
- We must work to revitalise the language if we are to revitalise the culture. Learning and speaking it only in the classroom is not enough, the language needs to be in the home. The answer to language revitalisation is intergeneration transmission.
The presentations I attended were inspiring, informative, and provocative. They forced me to ask myself those hard questions. I learned so much about what is happening in the area of indigenous education in places like Australia, Hawaii, Canada, Sweden and Peru, but, more specifically, what is happening in New Zealand. And like Pandora’s box, once it is opened, there is no going back.
Some important questions…
I had the chance to reflect on my experiences, knowledge and practice—have you?
I would like to know what is happening throughout our classrooms, with those of you at the chalkface, working with our tamariki everyday. What are you doing to meet the needs of your indigenous students?