ICTs and Indigenous People

UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education developed a policy brief in 2011 ICTs and Indigenous People.

It outlines the importance of Indigenous knowledge, and acknowledges that ICTs can be viewed as a “double-edged sword” with the potential to accelerate erosion of indigenous culture and knowledge but also the ability to empower and support resources and environments for indigenous children.

The paper describes some examples of how ICTs can be used positively by indigenous people to strengthen and reinforce indigenous cultures and knowledge. Here are three of these:

The Four Directions Project (USA) which includes:

  • Restructure of curriculum in schools – art, mathematics, science, fine arts etc
  • School-home and school-community focus
  • Networked virtual communities of indigenous teachers and students
  • Network database of culturally appropriate teaching resources

Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA)
The aim of this project is to research and development network is to improve the quality of, and extend access to, teacher education in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has an open education resources to support culturally-based teacher education adn training. 120 African countries are involved, 700 teachers have participated and the resources are available in 4 languages on the TESSA website.

Honey Bee Network – India
This project has multi media/multi lingual database of primary educational resources in native languages and supports exchange of ideas and innovations around horticulture, biodiversity and herbal medicine. They have public access “kiosks” in remote villages so that geographically disadvantaged people can share across the country and also globally.


The document outlines a number of policy recommendations which include:

  • Provide a policy framework that enables indigenous communities to have control of their schools
  • Encourage and fund research in use of ICTs to support culturally based education Develop educator professional development programmes designed to help non-indigenous educators to understand and support the culture of the indigenous community and the ways that ICTs may support access to indigenous content, expertise, and cultural resources
  • Develop online educator development programmes to prepare indigenous peoples to become teachers
  • Develop policies to use ICTs to provide continuous and adult education, retraining, life-long learning, and distance learning


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