Recognition of indigenous knowledges and identity construction in public primary education in Wayanad.


Publication date



Oslo and Akershus University College

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Master i flerkulturell og internasjonal utdanning


This thesis explores the recognition of indigenous knowledges in primary education in the Wayanad district in South India. India has made substantial progress in terms of providing free, compulsory education for all children, and in official rhetoric education is no longer a privilege for the wealthy minority, but should be accessible to everyone. Yet, inequality prevails. Even in the South Indian state of Kerala which is well-known for it's achievements in social development. As the nation has experiences rapid economic growth, the tribal population – adivasis – of India is still a politically, economic and socially marginalized minority. In Kerala they constitute the most marginalized part of the population, with low levels of educational attainment, employment and health. In 2007 the Kerala Curriculum Framwork 2007 was launched. The curriculum is based on critical pedagogy, rejecting the historically elitist education system inherited from colonial times, and explicitly encourages educational reforms in terms of addressing low educational attainment among girls, children from marginalized communities, and children with special needs. Based on an analysis of the objectives in the KCF 2007, compared with the statements of teachers and professionals in Wayanad, this thesis explores the recognition of knowledges, culture and languages of indigenous peoples in public primary education in Kerala. Moreover, it includes a discussion of the connections between education and identity construction in marginalized communities. Within the conceptual framework of modernity and tradition this thesis explores tensions between Western scientific knowledges and indigenous knowledges in India, and more specifically, how these tensions are played out within the educational sphere of public primary education in the Wayanad district. The discussion of the recognition of indigenous knowledges in education is further connected to the possibility of indigenous knowledges to represent an alternative to an unsustainable, exploitative approach to the world's natural resources. As India continue to grow as an economic superpower the possibility of a sustainable development seems to be quite pertinent. This is further connected to the broader subject of education as an arena for social change.


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