Education anchored around Culture, Classrooms Integrated and Interactive Schools reimagined as New-age Learning Spaces

By Srijita Chakrabarti


–           Should culture and language play a crucial role in determining content in education, as they are integral components of the identity, heritage, and overall well-being of tribal communities?

–           Culture and language carry the history, traditions, values, and customs of tribal communities.

–           Incorporating indigenous culture and language into their education can help preserve and transmit tribal heritage to future generations.

–           Culture-anchored-education can ensure that tribal youth remain connected to their roots, fostering a sense of pride and identity.

These were some of the insights and takeaways discussed on the third day of Mahul Phul – Infinitely Indigenous, a unique workshop which ensures collective intelligence practice that in turn, enables regenerative transformation.

After two days of productive activities towards emergence of collective intelligence around regenerative livelihood in which participants from tribal communities including janajati farmers and agriculture practitioners, PRI members, FNGO partners and academicians of national and global repute shared their views, the third day was about education and how indigenous culture can be incorporated into tribal education system.

The face-to-face discussion involved key stakeholders such as headmasters, MLA Teachers, and other teaching staff from some of the schools functioning under ST & SC Development, Minorities and Backward Caste Welfare Department, Government of Odisha. Teachers from across the state narrated their lived experiences with the schools, students, pedagogy, local culture and their own adaptation of the indigenous culture and language.

The day-long activity-based sessions highlighted how culture and language provide a holistic approach to education by encompassing not only academic knowledge but also the spiritual, social, and emotional aspects of tribal life. Tribal education that embraces cultural elements promotes a well-rounded development of students, helping them navigate their traditional communities and the wider society.

Teachers not only orally expressed their views but also huddled in groups to discuss about what are the cultural aspects that can be included in the existing curriculum, how indigenous culture will be reflected in the classroom or school environment and various aspects of cultural integration of tribal education and the way forward.

“Establishment of cultural spaces as an area of knowledge exchange can help bringing the indigenous culture to school campuses. Every school can have something like – Sanghralaya (mini tribal museum), so that it will bring a sense of belongingness to tribal students who by staying away from their own culture, feel alienated,” expressed Basant Kumar Sahu, a teacher, from Boudh.

“At the pedagogy level, there needs to be a multilingual atmosphere, where these students can communicate with teachers and a participative environment can exist in the school. In the classroom space, visual representation of tribal culture such as their dance, music, lore, practices, nature worship etc. can add to the trust-building and teaching-learning process,” put forward Dhanu Muduli, a teacher from Koraput.

Roopa Roshan Sahoo, commissioner-cum-secretary, SSD Department, appreciated the efforts of participants for taking this constructive step towards breaking the mental barriers resulting in a paradigm shift. “Teachers have redefined and continue redefining what knowledge is, and the session was insightful, enlightening and heartening,” observed the secretary.

She highlighted that the need of the hour is to create enough content for making education culture-oriented and activity-based learning to be given thrust over mere textbook-focused knowledge gathering. A separate vertical in the form of a research unit for culture that anchors education among indigenous people can be set up in a collaboration between Academy of Tribal language and Culture (ATLC), and SCST Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI), Bhubaneswar.

“Resource groups can help in content creation which can be made into a digital archive. Museums and Tribal Research Institute (TRI) can document the content in an archive or library, which will help in creating child-friendly documents. Food, Songs, and art forms can be made into hard drives which can be accessed by everyone through the e-library or hostel TV,” assured the secretary.

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