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(E45) Launch of the ISHGR Research and Advocacy Group on Hunter Gatherer Education 

Organisers: Jennifer Hays, Arctic University of Norway - Tromsø; Velina Ninkova, Arctic University of Norway; Edmond Dounias, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development; Sidsel Saugestad, Arctic University of Norway

Abstract: A reception to launch the ISHGR's Research and Advocacy Group on Hunter Gatherer Education will be held. A central goal of this group will be to contribute to hunter-gatherer communities’ ongoing efforts to secure sustainable livelihoods, with an emphasis on educational aspects of these efforts.

Place: TBA

Time: 25/7/18, 12:30–2 PM


We would like to invite interested researchers to join us in a new research and advocacy group under ISHGR, focusing on issues relating to education for hunting and gathering societies today. A central goal of this group will be to contribute to hunter-gatherer communities’ ongoing efforts to secure sustainable livelihoods, with an emphasis on educational aspects of these efforts.

Although formal education—schooling—is generally presented as a solution for marginalised groups, generally social hierarchies are reproduced through such systems. The extreme marginalisation of hunters and gatherers in modern societies is mirrored in their schooling experience: hunter-gatherer children participate in formal education systems at rates far lower than other groups, including other indigenous groups. Simultaneously, their traditional forms of knowledge transmission, though recognised as being highly effective and adaptive, are under threat due to loss of land, climate change, and other factors. Specific approaches are needed that address communities’ particular cultural needs and economic options. However, due to their small numbers, hunter-gatherer groups face severe problems of scale when it comes to accessing resources; they are often overlooked in statistical analyses, and ignored by donor agencies and governments, because they are too few or too “difficult”, and tailored approaches will be too expensive. Educationally this translates into a lack of appropriate educational facilities near their homes and a lack of mother tongue educational materials in their languages, which in turn means that the only options for formal education are highly assimilative and separate children from their families. This is a violation of indigenous rights, as outlined in a number of global rights documents.

One important aim of this research group is thus to provide a platform for efforts and arguments that draw on the global significance of hunter and gatherer communities in order to support local efforts towards educational self-determination.

The HG Education Research and Advocacy Group will begin as a forum to discuss and compare various related aspects of education for hunter-gatherer communities, including:

  • the role of formal education for hunter-gatherer communities in different parts of the world;

  • traditional educational and knowledge-transmission practices among contemporary hunter-gatherers;

  • the strategic approaches that hunter-gatherer communities employ to gain access to the skills and knowledge that they deem appropriate for their needs;

  • the connection between education and self-determination for hunter-gatherer communities

Research and advocacy will connect the concept of “education” with realistic livelihood opportunities, land rights, and environmental issues. It will have as a central focus indigenous knowledge and skills, and their importance for both hunter-gatherer communities themselves and for humanity. It will also address current threats to maintaining indigenous knowledge and skills.

We will convene a panel focusing on education at CHAGS 12, where we hope to hold the first meeting of this research group. In the meantime, we are establishing a network of researchers and activists interested in educational issues for hunters and gatherers, through CHAGS.

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