Indigenous education needs articulation and continuity

Technical high schools or online degree programs are available to students in rural locations, but there is a dearth of institutions of higher education that emphasize global perspectives and understanding.

Indigenous education needs articulation and continuity
There needs to be clarity and consistency in indigenous teaching methods. Credit: UNAM

It is necessary for schools to strive for the existence of diverse cultural practices in unequal societies, to not privilege one knowledge over another, to space open to cultural diversity, to allow the construction of autonomous conditions for cultural production as well as to generate alternatives within and outside the experiences, considered Beatriz Cadena Hernández, professor of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the National University.

"Also that they can serve the pending struggles, such as putting an end to the forms of racism, discrimination, poverty, and violence that continue to give us no respite. The task remains to continue writing the history of indigenous education through daily and committed work, cultivating seeds that allow us to sustain life in common".

To make visible the problems surrounding indigenous education, as well as to reflect and show different processes taking place in Mexico and Latin America, UNAM held the colloquium "Indigenous Education in Mexico: an interdisciplinary view", in which experts from this university and other institutions spoke on the subject.

The infrastructure of these schools (from preschool to distance education) is deficient and exhibits problems of inequality, inequity, exclusion, and lack of recognition of diversity.

"The Mexican Constitution states that to reduce the shortages and traits that affect peoples, governments are obliged to guarantee and increase the levels of schooling, favoring bilingual and intercultural education, literacy, completion of basic education, productive training, and secondary and higher education. But we have seen and experienced great deficiencies about the general system, and a lack of a solid project that achieves the task of education with relevance," she said.

Although there are proposals with a perspective of indigenous education at all levels, they are disjointed and lack continuity biases, since they break down when they reach secondary school, "since many times in rural areas we only find technical high schools or telesecundarias and there is a significant absence of intercultural universities, rural universities or rural teacher training colleges".

Regarding the evolution that indigenous education should have, Cadena Hernandez explained that in some regions of Mexico they are working on a more modern model and exemplified the work being done in these areas.

"The proposals that have been integrated have as pedagogical political features: to configure a critical, democratizing, scientific, reflexive, collective, ecological, feminist public education, among other aspects", she pointed out.

Part of these suggestions is the so-called collective teaching model. These models consider education from other school grammars, with integral schools of basic education that seek to transform the traditional and hegemonic curriculum using diverse articulations, and propose six pedagogical dimensions that represent the great planes of community transformation: economic, political, social, and cultural, ecological and planetary cosmogonic.

The challenges of indigenous peoples

Referring to what the indigenous peoples must do to continue with the work and improve the current educational systems, Beatriz Cadena considered it necessary to continue with the elaboration of communal community proposals, to raise awareness on the importance of indigenous people training other indigenous people, to teach literacy in their languages, new articulations with other educational levels; to establish training cycles that include secondary, high school and higher education; to reflect on the educational discourses with which they work, to vindicate the defense of indigenous languages and to promote the literary tradition of the native languages.