There are some 300 million indigenous people worldwide, who, while culturally distinct, share a deep and unique connection with their territories.
A connection that expresses itself in a wealth of knowledge about ecosystems and how to manage them sustainably. Indigenous peoples also share a history of colonization, loss of their territories due to large-scale resource exploitation, discrimination and marginalization.
In most cases, indigenous children are denied a quality education, which prepares them for the challenges of modern life while given them the option to express their right to self-determination and build their communities in accordance with their own world vision and values.
Mother tongue education is recognized as a human right for indigenous peoples, but remains elusive as there are few trained bilingual teachers and a shortage of bilingual materials.
Indigenous youth are particularly vulnerable. Losing the language and knowledge means that they lose the connection with their ancestors, while being denied access to modern society as many fall victim to substance abuse, violence and suicide when they migrate to the cities.
Contrary to popular belief that young indigenous people are not interested in their own culture, there is an increasing number of indigenous youth who are involved in learning about and preserving their heritage.
They organize lessons for children in their mother tongue, they learn how to weave baskets and make a business selling modern designs. But it is an uphill struggle, they must deal with discrimination and derision (from mainstream society as well as their own) and without further support, they might get discouraged and give up.
By bringing them together, they may get inspired and feel empowered to continue their efforts.
In partnership with NGOs and indigenous organisations, Rutu is:
- Training indigenous teachers and teaching assistants (engaging indigenous youth)
- Developing of bilingual mother tongue materials
- Working towards setting up a Global Fund for the Revitalization of Indigenous Language and Culture (to secure support for the educational priorities of indigenous peoples themselves)
- Empowering indigenous youth through networks and training