Statement on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

published 7 August 2008 updated 7 August 2008

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, states that “everyone has the right to education.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007, establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being and rights of the world's indigenous peoples. The Declaration addresses both individual and collective rights; cultural rights and identity; rights to education, health, employment, language, and others. It outlaws discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them.

Although there is now agreement worldwide on the importance of knowledge, education and training — as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All initiatives — human development indicators highlight that indigenous peoples continue to be disadvantaged and to face discrimination.

On the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, Education International reaffirms the commitment of teacher trade unions worldwide to contribute to the improvement of indigenous children’s educational outcomes, through equal access and quality education.

“Education must contribute to strengthen the core elements of indigenous identities. Education must promote respect for cultural diversity and help to break the cycle of discrimination and exclusion,” says Fred van Leeuwen, EI General Secretary. “Education, including human rights education, must be sensitive to and respectful of cultural diversity, and educational methods must address ignorance, discrimination and stereotypes.”

EI uses this special day to pay tribute to all teachers, indigenous and non-indigenous, in both urban and rural settings, who are working closely with indigenous peoples to meet their educational demands and make sure that their linguistic rights and cultural diversity are respected.

“The sharing of positive examples of indigenous education achievements is vital for pluralistic and democratic societies,” adds van Leeuwen.

An upcoming EI seminar will provide an opportunity for such an exchange. Entitled "Quality Education and Social Justice for Indigenous Peoples," it is being organised jointly by EI affiliates in Australia: the Australian Education Union, the Independent Education Union of Australia and the National Tertiary Education Union. The seminar will take place on 6 December, just one day prior to the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Education to be held in Melbourne from 7-11 December 2008.

To register for the EI Seminar click here.

For further information on the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Education, visit www.wipce2008.com