Indigenous Community Education and Its Role in Community Development: Sacred Mountain, Full of Wise Ones
The educational experience documented here is a shared one, both in the professional sense and as a life experience. The discussion is centered on the experience gained through the systematic participation in the implementation of the Bachelor’s Degree of Holistic Community Development (BDHCD) at the National Pedagogic University in Tlapa, Guerrero, México, an experience based on action research in education. The BDHCD is the only college degree program of its type in México, offering a degree that has been constructed alongside indigenous communities, and with its students and faculty who felt a responsibility to provide indigenous higher education to prepare students who would be able to address the challenges faced by their communities. The degree is nurtured by the deep roots of the people of the mountain region in the state of Guerrero, México. The BDHCD’s pedagogical work is galvanized within their contexts, since community development is constructed from within and alongside the community. In this way, development is not a model or a formula; development is what people are and what they know. The key lies in their knowledges, their wisdoms.
The communities have taught the world through their resistances, through each embroidery, each palm weaving, each decoration in their handicraft, every time a child learns her language, when they perform their rituals, and when they provide services to the community. Indigenous communities are not mere survivors of their ancestors but rather people who hold their own heritage and who struggle for another way of living. The community should not be looked upon with nostalgia. The community is composed of actors in resistance, who face up to their challenges and possess the moral authority to question government models that discriminate against them; it understands that it must gain visibility in order to have its rights respected, and to receive the programs destined to it, without embezzlement of resources, magic recipes, or social welfare programs. It is a community that builds another model of development within its own structures – a development in sacred territory, with the assembly of the people as the highest authority, and from the daily exercise of community consultation for decision-making. It is necessary for those of us in this mountain to find passion, to feel part of the actual community. This is a difficult task, and very few people in very few cases believe in the work with indigenous communities or have commitment to the indigenous peoples. The BDHCD seeks to address these challenges.
KeywordsCommunity wisdoms Wise men and women Community pedagogy Community development Revindication Community education Indigenous peoples
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