Indigenous knowledge and practices in education in Latin America: exploratory analysis of how indigenous cultural worldviews and concepts influence regional educational policy

Organisation(s): UNESCO Office Santiago and Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean

Date: 2017

Pages: 86 p.


This study presents a preliminary exploration of the approaches, processes and tools through which indigenous worldviews and concepts of knowledge and well-being can and have influenced education policies in Latin America. First, it addresses the principal theoretical approaches used in the area of indigenous knowledge and education policies, taking into account the persistence of an “epistemic otherness” and the need for a dialogue between the predominant approaches. Second, it addresses the normative framework and intercultural educational policies, emphasizing how and to what extent the countries in the region take indigenous knowledge into consideration and include it in their education policies and practices. Third, it presents a number of “relevant practices” in terms of dialogue with indigenous knowledge in education policies, taking into account the factors that favour the relevance of education to indigenous views and cultural practices, facilitating their replicability and sustainability. Furthermore, these practices respond to key criteria like recognizing learners as ‘carriers’ and producers of culture, valuing the use of schools as centres of social and cultural activities and favouring the inclusive learning of indigenous and non-indigenous students. Finally, the study unveils challenges for the advancement of the dialogue between indigenous knowledge and education policies, at the same time proposing key concepts to be approached in depth.

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