EI participates in the activities of the United Nations' bodies organised for the issue of indigenous peoples. Examples are the Working Group on Indigenous Populations and the Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues. EI attends the Forum's annual sessions since its creation in 2002.
Education International supports the UN initiative in the declaration of the first (1995-2004) and second (2005-2014) Decade of Indigenous Peoples. EI also supports the ILO Convention 169 "Indigenous and Tribal Peoples" (1989).
The EI World Congress passed various resolutions concerning indigenous education. The resolutions acknowledge that the distinct cultures and languages of indigenous peoples enrich the cultural heritage of humankind and deserve protection as vehicles of culture and identity. As such, EI recognises the role that teachers, education support personnel and their organizations in the education system have in ensuring the promotion and preservation of cultural identity of indigenous peoples.
EI also asks its affiliates to endorse the Coolangatta Statement which represents the collective voice of indigenous peoples from around the world. The document states the fundamental principles vital to the achievement of the reform and transformation of education for indigenous peoples. It is the result of six years' work that commenced prior to the World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education (WIPCE) in Australia in 1993 and endorsed at WIPCE 1999. The WIPCE is the gathering of indigenous educators, researchers and students from around the world.
EI recognises that the public education systems in different states have not always met the needs of Indigenous Peoples. Progress has been achieved in some urban areas, but much more needs to be done in rural areas. EI believes that United Nations bodies, governments and education trade unions must review, transform and improve policies and practices in this matter, in order to achieve the Education For All (EFA) objective.
As stated in the "Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" passed at the Education International World Congress in 1998, EI commits itself to promote the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and recognition of their cultural identity, including the right to learn and to use their own language. To this end, EI has undertaken the following activities.
At the global level, EI conducts a three-yearly Global Survey on the Status of Indigenous Educators through its affiliates worldwide. The first such survey was conducted in 2001. The survey results is then used to prepare EI's triennial report on the Status of Indigenous Education. The report is then presented to EI's World Congress, highlighting common key issues and proposals for progress.
Apart from that, EI holds an Indigenous Peoples' Forum once every three years. The first one was held in 1998. The forum is attended by representatives from EI affiliates as well as partners such as the ILO and Novib (Oxfam Netherlands).
At the regional level, EI organises conferences for teacher organisations to discuss issues related specifically to indigenous peoples in the particular region. One such example is the Indigenous People’s Education Conference (Asia-Pacific Region), organised by EI's Asia-Pacific regional office and the Council of Pacific Education (COPE) in Fiji in December 2003.
All survey results, resolutions and statements on indigenous peoples, educators and education are available for free download from our Resource Library. For more information on the issue, please contact us.