Spotlight Issues IV.7.6 The Indigenous Intercultural

REFERENCES
Departamento Administrativo Nacional de
Estadística (2013) Comunicado de Prensa
sobre la Pobreza en Colombia Años
2010–2011. Bogota: DANE.
Gobernación de Caldas (2013) Plan de Desarrollo del Departamento de Caldas 2012–
2015 Compromiso de Todos. Retrieved
September 2013 from http://gobernacion
decaldas.gov.co/images/plandedesarrollo/
plan2012completo.pdf.
Municipio de Manizales (2012) Plan de Desarrollo Municipio de Manizales 2012–2015
Gobierno en la Calle. Retrieved September
2013 from http://www.manizales.gov.co/
dmd/pd/ACUERDO0784/PLANDEDESAR
ROLLOGOBIERNOENLACALLE.pdf.
Spotlight Issues IV.7.6
The Indigenous Intercultural University network – a place for dialogue on knowledge
The Indigenous Intercultural University (IIU) is
a collectively constructed regional academic
initiative that promotes and accompanies the
social transformation that is being led by the
Fund for the Development of the Indigenous
Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean
(Indigenous Fund) by offering specific postgraduate formation and promoting epistemic
pluralism in academic spheres.
The IIU Network consists of more than
20 academic centres that offer eight different postgraduate courses to indigenous leaders and professionals from the whole Latin
American continent. Since its start in 2005,
more than 500 men and women from more
than 85 indigenous peoples have graduated.
One aspect of the innovative IIU approach
is the Cátedra Indígena Itinerante (CII, the
Itinerant Indigenous Faculty), which is an
integral part of postgraduate courses aimed
at the dissemination, exchange and collective and systematic building of indigenous
knowledge and wisdom, in which debate,
shared learning and active participation are
promoted among students.
BACKGROUND
As part of their processes of modernization
and democratic consolidation, many Latin
American countries have passed laws recognizing indigenous peoples as an integral
part of their multicultural societies. Indigenous organizations realize that, in order to
improve their participation in the government,
economy and society, they need more people
with professional training. At present, they
294
do not have enough qualified specialists with
leadership skills who are capable of working
successfully in the political arena and, above
all, ensuring effective coordination between
the State and society.
However, existing education systems
have not yet met the demand for training
for indigenous people in either quantitative
or qualitative terms. Indigenous people do
not have the same opportunities to pursue
higher education, and there are few universities offering degrees and programmes focused
on subjects that are important to them. The
problem, in terms of quality, is that current
university education systems focus on subjects
and methodologies that do not respond to the
interests of indigenous peoples or value the
contributions they make.
Extensive discussions have taken place
within this context. Indigenous people
consider that higher education in and for their
communities must be structured around the
transmission of integrated systems of holistic knowledge and draw on the wellsprings
of indigenous spirituality. They believe that
higher education should not only be realistic and pragmatic, but also reflect the spiritual richness of indigenous cosmogonies and
philosophies, which are inexhaustible sources
of wisdom and harmonious balance between
the people and the land in their communities.
These concerns stem from criticism levelled
by indigenous people at formal education at
all levels. They feel that it has contributed
to the loss of their peoples’ identity, offers
knowledge and skills that they cannot apply
HIGHER EDUCATION in the World 5
Claudia Stengel
and results in a loss of respect for their way
of life, including their leaders, culture and
ancestral wisdom. There are also demands
for full indigenous participation in the formal
state education system, which has not yet
been achieved. Consequently, the dialogue
between indigenous and academic knowledge
is not yet satisfactory.
In this respect, one of the challenges facing
higher education programmes for indigenous
people is the recording, application, protection and transfer of knowledge that exists
and is commonly used in their communities.
The knowledge of each indigenous people
is unique, traditional and local. It covers all
aspects of community life, including their relation with the natural environment.
THE IIU NETWORK
In 2005, to respond this challenge and to
address the 30 years of demands of the
continental indigenous organizations, the
Indigenous Fund called for the formation of
the regional IIU Network. Its aim is to contribute to the formation of qualified indigenous
professionals with leadership capacity, so they
can take on coordination, participation and
decision-making tasks from an inter-cultural
perspective, and exercise positive influence
over the political, economic and social organization of their respective societies.
To respond the demand for academic
formation with identity and from an indigenous perspective, the CII was created as an
integral part of postgraduate courses aimed at
the dissemination, exchange and collective and
© GUNI. This document is authorised for use only by The Global University Network for Innovation on their website http://www.guninetwork.org/.
Copying or posting is a copyright infringement. If you wish to request permission, please contact [email protected]
(with the support of Grameen Caldas and the
Catholic University of Manizales) in the region,
with over 540 participants.
• Inter-cultural Bilingual Education
• Inter-cultural Health
• Indigenous Rights
• Governance, Indigenous Peoples,
Human
Rights and International Cooperation
• Development with Identity for Communitarian Well Being–Good Living
• Linguistic and Cultural Revitalization
• Good Governance and Public Administration with Indigenous Perspective
• Indigenous Women’s Leadership.
To finance the studies, the Indigenous Fund
established a special scholarship programme
that had, up to 2012, enabled the successful participation of more than 500 men and
women.
Another important cornerstone is the recovery and production of knowledge in order to
promote an integrated development and an
affirmation of the identity of the region’s indigenous peoples and ethnic groups, generating knowledge and information arising from
research studies and the systematization of
the traditional wisdom of indigenous cultures,
and from inter-cultural relations. The research
focuses on actions to bring about social transformation, under the Well Being–Good Living
paradigm. The IIU also promotes the publication
of educational materials and specialized texts.
IIU’s OUTCOMES
The students, who are mostly indigenous
people (just under 15% of the participants
being non-indigenous), come from 20 different countries, mainly in Latin America and the
Caribbean. Many (52%) of the 500 students
who graduated between February 2007, when
the first postgraduate course on inter-cultural
bilingual education started, and 2012 now hold
positions of responsibility in the government of
their country or in other institutions where they
are able to influence the definition, formulation
and implementation of public policies concerning the rights of indigenous peoples.
IMPACTS ON IIU’s PARTNERS
It can be said that the main impact of the integral IIU approach is that it helps to broaden
traditional academic models of university
education by offering a different option based
on the experiences, practices, struggles and
history of indigenous peoples. Another specific
impact of this process lies in encouraging
students to engage in reflective analysis, with
a view to decolonizing university and academic
knowledge by incorporating approaches based
on spirituality, citizenship, gender equality and
inter-culturality.
The CII leads through personal changes in
terms of individual identity and the reassertion
of collective identity. Students confirm that their
self-esteem improves through a recognition and
appreciation of the cultural, economic, environmental and spiritual elements of their cultures.
The contacts and exchanges among leaders and local actors from different countries
are contributing to building knowledge with
different ideological, political, social, cultural
and spiritual contexts.
LESSONS LEARNT
Higher education for indigenous peoples
should be made by indigenous peoples
responding to their own spirituality and epistemology. An alternative higher education
needs alternative institutional structures.
One of the challenges facing higher education programmes for indigenous people is the
recording, application, protection and transfer
of knowledge that exists and is commonly
used in their communities.
For more information, contact [email protected]
fondoindigena.org, or go to www.fondoindigena.org.
IV.7.7
Networks on community–university engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean
América Solidaria
Secretariat: Chile.
Website: http://www.americasolidaria.org (accessed 17 May 2013).
Members: n/a.
América Solidaria’s mission is to build networks that cooperate among
the American nations to strengthen local projects with volunteer professionals, with the goal of enhancing the quality of life of the poorest and
most excluded people in the continent (text taken from http://www.americasolidaria.org/home/quienes-somos-2/#gen [accessed 17 May 2013]).
KNOWLEDGE, ENGAGEMENT AND HIGHER EDUCATION IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
295
© GUNI. This document is authorised for use only by The Global University Network for Innovation on their website http://www.guninetwork.org/.
Copying or posting is a copyright infringement. If you wish to request permission, please contact [email protected]
systematic building of indigenous knowledge
and wisdom, in which debate, shared learning
and active participation are promoted among
students. Developed by indigenous specialists
and wise men and women, the purpose of the
CII is to offer a conceptual and political framework to help each postgraduate programme
develop its themes by integrating the perspective of indigenous experience and knowledge.
In 2007, the IIU launched several blended
postgraduate
programmes,
incorporating the CII as part of the study programme
and getting several virtual platforms up and
running at the universities responsible for each
programme. These platforms make it possible
to carry out the virtual activities that form part
of the blended mode of learning that characterizes this education project, since part of
the course is carried out face to face (with the
CII) and part is completed by distance learning. The virtual learning component is based
on a methodology called ‘collaborative learning’. From this perspective, knowledge is built
with the participation and contribution of all
involved; the teacher is not seen as the owner
of the information, but rather as the facilitator
of the learning process.
Since its outset, the IIU has been able to
provide relevant, quality programmes that
respond to the expectations and demands of
indigenous peoples. The current offer includes
the following courses: