Indigenous Education Foundation Programs

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Our Foundation

Indigenous Education Foundation (IEF) was founded in 2014 to reduce poverty amongst Indigenous peoples. We do this by empowering communities to develop and sustain their own cultural-based education solutions. IEF was built from the ground up to empower a marginalised community in the Mentawai Islands, whom had initiated a strategy to reconnect with their Indigenous culture but lacked important resources to get their program off the ground. IEF Founder, Rob Henry, had been living with the Mentawai since 2009, gathering research and documentation on the impacts of cultural displacement. As a result, through listening to the community, IEF’s empowerment and capacity-building approach was born.

What we do
Our mission is to empower Indigenous communities to reconnect with their culture, where culture includes:
• Land and resource use • Language • Traditional ecological knowledge • Beliefs, mythology and spirituality • Song and story • Food • Ceremony • Economic prosperity

Our Guiding Principles
IEF develops strong relationships with Indigenous communities seeking to strengthen / reconnect with their culture. We do this via four key principles:

RESEARCH: Extensive and thorough research is conducted in collaboration with the Indigenous community to determine an accurate understanding of their circumstances, needs and the issues they face.

ENGAGEMENT: Community ownership is paramount to ensuring long-term success. We identify and engage key members of the community who are driven to take control in initiating, developing and operating their cultural-based programs.

EMPOWERMENT: We provide support to these key members and broader community in their development and implementation of cultural-based initiatives.

ACCOUNTABILITY: We unsure accountability by executing and upholding comprehensive compliance systems within our own operation and with our partners and stakeholders.

Our program criteria
IEF programs must have an educational value and meet at least one (1) of the following criteria:
• Promote, strengthen, preserve and protect Indigenous culture and knowledge
• Promote, strengthen, preserve and protect a human connection to the land and its natural resources
• Promote, strengthen, preserve and protect an Indigenous language
• Utilise Indigenous culture, knowledge and/or agricultural practices to increase general health, wellbeing and sustainable development
• Utilise or strengthen cultural-based skill or knowledge to contribute to the economic prosperity of the community

Our beliefs
IEF’s work is based upon a worldview centered around these key fundamental beliefs:
• That all communities have the right to their culture
• In the value of indigenous culture
• That our work has great value and represents a sound financial investment
• That community ownership is paramount to the success of our work

IEF does not:
• Support any activity that violates the human rights of any person, as defined in the UN Charter of Human Rights
• Implement or facilitate band-aid solutions
• Tolerate corruption or illegal behaviours and activities

Why We Do It

Indigenous people make up 5% of the world’s population. But, despite their coming from predominately resource-rich areas, they represent 15% of the world’s poorest people.

In spite of this awareness and these distressing figures very little progress has been made. Indigenous peoples continue to suffer.

At IEF we recognise that, to be effective, the solutions we offer must be targeted toward the root cause of the large-scale problems being faced by Indigenous communities throughout the world: the displacement from their lands, resources, cultural knowledge, values and identity. Not to mention the lack of access or support for communities to re-establish this connection.

We agree that the way forward is for
Indigenous peoples to empower themselves, as communities, through education. But it has to be the right type of education. Current systems, whereby foreign curriculum is introduced in placement of their own, are not only failing as proposed solutions but are in fact at the helm of its very cause.

What people forget to recognise is that Indigenous peoples are the founders of sustainable development. Their survival, as societies, for tens of thousands of years across a vastly diverse range of ecosystems, should be evidence enough for this to be acknowledged.

To the contrary, these Indigenous education systems and their unique cultures and understanding are being ignored as a possible means to sustainable solutions. And, through this abandonment and lack of recognition, a large number of these ancient cultures now no longer exist.

This is a critical time to fight for the protection of Indigenous people and their human right to access and develop their own native educational solutions. We will no longer stand by and watch these people be driven into poverty.

This is why we do what we do. We value Indigenous communities, we value their traditional knowledge and cultures, and we value people. We want to help our Indigenous to shape a better future, their way.
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