Indigenous Knowledge and Value Systems in India: Holistic Analysis of Tribal Education and the Challenge of Decentralising Control

  • Malvika GuptaEmail author
  • Felix Padel


Since Independence, a need was expressed in Nehru’s Panchsheel principles, and in every major policy document since, to allow tribal communities to develop according to their own genius, and in the field of education, to allow a synthesis between formal education that imparts literacy, etc. and indigenous models that formalised ways of transmitting knowledge and value systems to succeeding generations long before the first schools appeared. Yet, the tendency has increased to promote boarding schools that separate Adivasi children from their homes, removing them from the influence of their own cultures and languages. If Ashram boarding schools are the dominant model, and village day schools are declining, the continuum extends from small-scale, culturally sensitive ‘alternative’ schools to the influential KISS model, whose main school in Bhubaneswar offers education ‘from KG to PG’ to 27,000 tribal children. By contrast, the model of communitised education adopted by the Nagaland Government allows communities to exercise control over teachers’ salaries, and many educationalists advocate a system of decentralised education that would allow communities a much bigger say in curriculum too. Under this backdrop, the paper presents a holistic analysis of the situation and shows that what is at stake is the survival or annihilation of knowledge and value systems entrenched in lifestyles that are sustainable in the long term.


Indigenous/tribal knowledge Value systems Holistic analysis Tribal education Ashram school Adivasi Multilingual education 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for International DevelopmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Centre for World Environment HistoryUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

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