IBE - International Bureau of Education

10/14/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/14/2019 04:23

Indigenous curriculum for youth & their communities on Chiloe Island, Chile

In recent years the Chilean state has made strides towards including Indigenous education in the national curriculum. In 2018 the Ministry of Education conducted an Indigenous Education Consultation to identify core themes and competencies to be included in relevant and accurate Indigenous curriculum. Despite efforts, this process of development and scale-up has been slow and classrooms across the country still lack curriculum for the true history and traditional knowledge of the Indigenous peoples of the region.

Wekimün: A School for and with Indigenous Youth and their Communities was a six-year, education for sustainable development project based in the archipelago of Chiloé, Chile. This work was led by the Young Lives Research Lab (Canada) and the Williche Council of Chiefs of Chiloé, with funding from Global Affairs Canada. The project worked directly with the Indigenous Williche communities in identifying community needs and hopes for their futures, and then developing and implementing a curriculum and school based in traditional, Indigenous Williche knowledge. The word wekimün means 'new knowledge' in the Williche language of Mapudungun and this concept guided the process of developing a unique, intercultural curriculum through decolonized, trans-disciplinary, intergenerational community-based methods.

While infrastructure provided a necessary base for school operations and community engagement and participation, Wekimün Chilkatuwe (school) was designed as a school without walls. Community project-based learning guided each of the curricular areas, including traditional language (Mapudungun), Williche culture and cosmovision, education, traditional agriculture, Williche cooking and nutrition, sustainable development, human and Indigenous rights, and gender equity. Students developed projects with and for their communities and engaged peers, family, children, and elders in the process of teaching and learning. They connected with the people, land and sea of their territories and identified human and natural resources and opportunities for sustainable community development. Students described their experience at Wekimün Chilkatuwe as a 'rebirth' that connected them deeply to their families and communities and made them proud of their Indigenous heritage. Students and community members widely discussed the school as a tool for breaking down hundreds of years of discrimination, prejudice, and cultural shame. This education model provided the steppingstones towards truth and reconciliation for the Williche communities of Chiloé as they were offered, for the first time, an opportunity to identify, restore, and preserve their history, culture, traditions and knowledge.