Asia Indigenous Caucus Statement in UN EMRIP



2nd session of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Agenda Item 3:
Lessons Learned and Challenges to Achieve the Right to Education by Indigenous Peoples.

Thank you, Mdm. Chairperson.

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on behalf of Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus for your election as Chairperson of this session. We are confident that under your able leadership the EMRIP will be able to advance indigenous peoples’ rights worldwide.

For generations, indigenous peoples have been subjected to educational systems that have served to erode our traditional ways of life, diminish our languages, imposed foreign ideologies and belief systems, strengthened discriminatory attitudes and beliefs against us and generally led to our further marginalization and has in fact exacerbated conflicts. These educational systems have been imposed on us by governments, through State institutions, including military institutions, religious groups, NGO’s and other entities, including business interests.

Mdm. Chair person, Indigenous peoples we have our own distinct education system that is unique to our culture and traditions that have evolved through our relations to our lands and territories. The greatest challenge that faces us in terms of achieving the full implementation of our right to education is the continuing non-recognition by States of the existence of indigenous peoples. As a consequence recognition of our mother tongue and our traditional systems that are vital for achieving the rights to quality education that meet our aspirations are not recognized. It is then imperative that the States recognize indigenous peoples including their rights to quality and relevant education.

We congratulate the EMRIP for the work done to compile this study despite limited resources.

In order for Indigenous Peoples to enjoy the fulfilment of the right to education, we recommend the following as prerequisite condition that has to take place in the national and regional level.

1) The education policies must recognise indigenous languages and indigenous education systems, and shall be harmonised with the national education system.

2) Language is essential for the survival of our knowledge and cultures as distinct peoples. Government should adopt Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education (MTBMLE) in the education system where appropriate. Indigenous languages is not just a subject within the national curriculum but a whole knowledge system on its own which includes the socio culture, history and heritage of the indigenous communities

4) Resources should be allocated to indigenous communities to support their initiative to preserve and promote the indigenous education system.

5) Decentralizing and localising the curriculum to incorporate the history, socio culture and heritage of Indigenous Peoples, should be developed with the full and effective participation of indigenous leaders and communities.

6) In line with the above pre-requisites, concrete Policies are needed to ensure these measures

Further, we also urge the EMRIP to recommend the followings to HRC

  • To allocate more resources including finance to the EMRIP to conduct follow-up study on this particular thematic issue and other future recommended studies.
  • To request EMRIP to further elaborate the study and look at the good practices in many countries to cover indigenous education systems.
  • To establish a mechanism to follow-up on the thematic study on Indigenous peoples’ rights to education.
  • To request the EMRIP to evaluate the implementation of the right to education that is covered in relevant treaties and conventions as part of the commitments and obligations by the governments at the national level