Indigenous education is a concept that is dependent on the concept of universal learning which comprises of the mental, emotional and physical characteristics of an individual. It is a way of learning which is grounded within the community and the language of the country. The indigenous perspectives suggest the art of knowing and the forces like technology, production and appropriate behaviour together with the social and cosmological values. The essay presented below presents the International indigenous perspectives on Education in relation to Australian communities (Darryl Reano & Carena Hasara 2023). The essay then illustrates the understanding of the global indigenous education system while focusing on the works done by indigenous theorists and academics.
According to Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, “Indigenous peoples have the rights to develop and have control over their educational systems and the institutions and provide the students with knowledge in their own language. It is also appropriate with their cultural perspectives of learning and teaching. In developed nations like Australia, education should be an essential right because it is crucial for the proper functioning of a republic. The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues have estimated that more than 370 million indigenous people are there across the world who are spread among 70 countries (Elinor Assoulin 2023). All of these people have different perspectives and they practice unique culture and traditions which helps in retaining social, cultural and economic characteristics which are different from those of the dominant societies. The Australia’s indigenous peoples are belonging to two different groups which are made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander peoples are the specific cultural groups or the indigenous communities of Australia. The Aboriginals are the original peoples of mainland Australia and Torres Strait Islander are referring to the original peoples from the 274 islands which are located in the north of Australia. Great level of diversity can be seen between the two groups demonstrated by over 250 different language spread across the nation. The Aboriginal or the Torres Strait Islander people are having their own laws and they follow their own customs. According to Moreton- Robinson the procedure for introducing one’s self to other indigenous people is to give the information or knowledge regarding one’s culture and their location with the help of which networking can be developed on the cultural, political and social grounds. He has argued that the knowledge gained by indigenous people within Australia are “unspeakable things”, not because they are challenging the assumptions which are often taken- for- granted which are undergird on present supremacy of the colonial practices of the social science (Murdocca, 2020). Moreton- Robinson was the first Aboriginal person who was appointed to a mainstream lecturing position for teaching the women’s studies in Australia. According to Aboriginal writers like Jackie Huggins and Rosemary van den Berg the quantity of the research which was conducted on Aboriginal people since the British had invaded in the late 1770s is so huge that it is making the Aboriginal the most researched groups of the people in world. Within Australia the indigenous students are still seeking for equity within education systems. The indigenous students are continuously underperforming and their scores have remained stagnant. There are strong links which have been drawn between the underperformance of the students and the requirements for the improvement within the teaching styles of the tutors (Boiral, Heras‐Saizarbitoria and Brotherton, 2023). For indigenous tutors it is important that they are expressing their views on this topic because the voices of indigenous people are rarely heard within the field of education in Australia. Not all the indigenous students are experiencing challenges with their education. Understanding the significance of the indigenous knowledge to the indigenous people and the implications of this understanding will help in making modifications within education programmes and will develop an environment for encouraging the participation and engagement of the indigenous students.
Lack of respect and the resources is creating an educational gap in between the indigenous and non- indigenous groups of the society. The education system globally is not respecting or valuing the indigenous peoples because of their diverse cultures. There are very few number of teachers who are using their native language within the school and their schools are often lacking in providing some of the basic materials (Whitney-Squire, 2019). The educational materials and readings which are providing a critical analysis of the way of living of indigenous peoples are very few. Despite several international policies and articles which proclaim universal rights for education to all, the indigenous peoples are not fully enjoying their rights and the gap between the indigenous peoples and the rest of the world is becoming critical. The indigenous peoples are getting poorer quality of education than other groups.
The indigenous views on education are highly rooted within history, basically the colonial experiences that have left a long-lasting impact on the indigenous communities. There are many indigenous views to preserve their languages and cultures while using education. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are making sure to include their languages and their cultural practices in their curriculum so that knowledge can be passed to young generation and can be saved. The use of the cultures of indigenous communities in education will help them in highlighting the importance of cultural preservation. At global levels, the indigenous people are having similar issues. For instance, Maori in Ne Zealand is working continuously to include their cultural language Te Reo Maori in the education curriculum so as to encourage cultural immersion. In Canada, the indigenous led schools practice traditional customs and are using knowledge systems to facilitate a sense of cultural knowledge.
The indigenous views on education are also prioritizing empowerment and self- determination. The indigenous communities are having control over their education systems and they make their own rules and curriculum (Woodroffe, 2020). The UNDRIP has given the rights to the indigenous communities to have control over their educational systems so that they will be able to reflect their own values and culture to the students. There are several challenges for indigenous communities like inadequate resources or lack of competent teachers. Although the tension between the Western education systems and the indigenous education systems is a hurdle so as to accomplish the desired outcomes from the indigenous communities. However, the collaborative efforts of government, indigenous communities and educational institutions will help in the cultural development and enhanced access to the resources for education to indigenous communities.
An indigenous scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith from New Zealand has argued in her work about Decolonizing Methodologies that education has become a tool for colonization and imposing the Western culture over people. In her work she mentioned that decolonization is a crucial step within the indigenous education system (Woodroffe, 2022). Decolonization within education according to Smith will help in recognizing the historical as well as the ongoing impacts of colonization on the indigenous communities. According to Smith the ideas and perspectives of indigenous communities have to be respected and incorporated within the educational practices. Since the futures of these students are likely to be as complex as the spaces in which they currently reside, educators must continue to cultivate their own scholarship in the cultural interface in order to discover new ways to serve Indigenous students with self-awareness and respect, as well as to relate appropriately to Indigenous knowledge systems.
A native American author Vine Deloria has provided his views on including indigenous knowledge within education systems. He has argued that indigenous knowledge and cultures are valuable for the education system. The introduction of indigenous knowledge in the education system will help in promoting the cultural understanding and also mitigating the challenges which are dominating the Eurocentric stories. The views of indigenous people are diverse and rich on education and it is reflecting their cultures and history.
The two indigenous perspectives mentioned are providing the highlights about the importance of indigenous knowledge in education. Smith has focused on decolonization and has argued about the restoration of the indigenous control over their curriculum. Whereas the Deloria’s views are more about including the indigenous knowledge within the education systems to make them more powerful and strong. While considering both the perspectives it can be known that there are both challenges and opportunities for the global indigenous education system. The challenges are more rooted towards the historical practices and the opportunities are coming from the transformation within the education system to empower the indigenous communities.
The indigenous education systems are affected by the injustice which had happened in the past years mainly because of colonization. For past many years the indigenous peoples are not allowed to show their culture and they were forced to erase their traditional knowledge systems. The injustice which had happened years ago is still affecting the indigenous groups and their culture have got diminished (Duran, 2019). Their education systems are not funded properly when compared to the western education system. This financial instability is leading to less access of the education resources and thus the infrastructure of the education system of indigenous communities is outdated. Quality education is provided to limited number of indigenous learners according to the funds and this is a major disadvantage that hinders the potential of the learners to get success. There are many education organizations which are lacking in cultural capability, which is necessary for developing inclusive learning environments in universities and schools. Less understanding regarding the indigenous cultures and languages among the tutors will lead to discrimination and negligence of the indigenous identities.
Education is the most powerful tool for the indigenous communities to gain competence and empower themselves. By getting access and sufficient resources for good quality education, they will be able to gain good knowledge and the learners will be able to enhance their skills. This will help them in pursuing their careers in big companies and encourage higher standard of living. With the help of education, the indigenous learners will be able to contribute something good to the communities and will work towards bringing positive change to support their rights. The indigenous knowledge system is having greater potential to become a basis for the preservation of the indigenous cultures and their traditions. By including indigenous knowledge in the curriculum, the global education system can help in reinforcing the indigenous culture this will help in fostering their knowledge regarding heritage. Education can also become a basis for the reconciliation between the non-indigenous communities and the indigenous communities. This helps in giving the opportunity to understand the views of both the communities and breaking down the stereotypes.
More emphasis needs to be placed on respecting actual evidence and experience of loss of Indigenous peoples while teaching in Indigenous contexts. This may pose additional challenges to the truth systems that educators may choose to support or oppose. The cultural interface can frame indigenous education and the interactions between teachers and students from different cultures. Teachers who engage with Nakata's three standpoint principles—generating accounts of experience; creating agency for new knowledge; and respecting what can be said, known, and learned—can instead establish a foundation of humility and new practises rather than maintaining a dynamic that 'includes' Indigenous knowledge within the western educational paradigm.
Taking all of these factors into account, I have concluded that Indigenous education globally is currently at a crossroads. A lack of cultural competence in general, budget shortfalls, and historical wrongs are only a few of the challenges that need to be addressed. Universities and governments alike must act quickly and prophylactically. One possible direction is to adopt Linda Tuhiwai Smith's notion of decolonization, which advocates for the dismantling of oppressive institutions, acknowledging the lingering consequences of colonialism, and giving local people back control over Indigenous educational systems.
Simultaneously, Indigenous education offers enormous opportunities. A fundamental human right is the capacity to shape one's own future, and education can be a potent instrument for Indigenous peoples to achieve this (Woodroffe, 2022). It could be an instrument for strengthening Indigenous identities, healing generational divides, and reviving culture. Also, education can be a key component of reconciliation efforts by promoting social justice, truth-telling, and mutual understanding.
There is a global crisis in Indigenous education that requires a coordinated, all-encompassing response. The effectiveness of this plan depends on the full and equal participation of Indigenous peoples in the decision-making process related to education. Priority must be given to funding gaps to be filled in order to ensure that Indigenous students receive a quality education. Additionally important are cultural sensitivity and the authentic integration of Indigenous knowledge into academic curricula.
In conclusion, the current status of Indigenous education worldwide walks a narrow line between opportunities and challenges. To create an education system that is more egalitarian, inclusive, and effective, we must embrace the potential of education as a catalyst for positive change, cultural resurrection, and reconciliation. According to Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Vine Deloria Jr., advancement on this route requires unshakable dedication, teamwork, and a genuine respect for the viewpoints and voices of Indigenous people.
In conclusion, the current status of Indigenous education worldwide walks a narrow line between opportunities and challenges. To create an education system that is more egalitarian, inclusive, and effective, we must embrace the potential of education as a catalyst for positive change, cultural resurrection, and reconciliation. According to Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Vine Deloria Jr., advancement on this route requires unshakable dedication, teamwork, and a genuine respect for the viewpoints and voices of Indigenous people. Reforming Indigenous education is ultimately vital for the purpose of justice, equity, and the appreciation of multiple ways of knowing.