This research addresses some theoretical questions framed in the educational-intercultural-indigenous environment, with the purpose of introducing us into the conceptions of people, community, interculturality, indigenous education and intercultural education; essential categories to rethink ourselves and value the cultural origin and community identity of our indigenous peoples. In summary, this paper attempts to review the forms of construction of cultural knowledge and knowledge in relation to community-school links, and how these are used in educational institutions to complement and strengthen the intercultural-indigenous training of young people or to marginalize and minimize the identity value of their local culture.
Keywords: Intercultural Education, Indigenous Education, People, Community, Interculturality, Integral Indigenous Educational Model.
"Culture is the profound exercise of identity."
– Julio Cortázar.
In recent years, the proposal of an education that takes into account the cultural composition of the school population that attends educational centers has become more relevant, on the one hand to improve learning outcomes, which are closely related to the schemes of cultural perception and knowledge that children and young people acquire during their educational process, and through the activities they develop in their context.
In the case of Mexico, it is where we can locate at least two cultural situations, the first in which the language and the forms of organization, of production, of systems of office, of particular ways of life of a locality, are living elements that are used in daily life.
The second is that the knowledge of the indigenous peoples takes on great importance when they are placed in the sight of others by themselves as they name, name and conceive that culture.
This allows the essence of his thought not to be lost, because it is the most valuable thing in culture, naming things according to the thought of the people entails approaching their way of seeing the world and relating to it, which makes some cultures different from others and is the basis of their raison d’être.
The purpose of this work is to put the relations of the school and the community as a central point for analysis and study to understand how each of these institutions contributes to the formation of the new generations and above all, what each of them contributes to the continuity of the local culture and the knowledge of the dominant culture, in order to contribute to the construction of an intercultural education that respects diversity.
The sense of recovering the above is to encourage the community to take direct participation, so that the thematic axes and contents of culture can be worked on an equal footing with the contents programmed in educational plans and programs.
That is to say, that it is respected and worked from the language and logical structure of the knowledge and knowledge of the local culture and it is not done from the scheme of western thought, because the process of non-relevant translation loses the fund of this knowledge and its essence is transfigured.
Trying to understand what we call people
It is relevant in this work to make an approach to this way of understanding the people, but basically we are interested in what is related to the indigenous people, for their specific particularities before the national peoples, in which they are and are also assumed as part of them, as in the case of Mexico.
Let us review the concept of people on the basis of Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which states in article 1, paragraph (b), that it is considered as indigenous peoples:
"(…) peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from populations living in the country or in a geographical region to which the country belongs at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present State borders and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain all or part of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.
For its part, the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States (2005, 1), in article 2 establishes that: "(…) indigenous peoples (…) are those who descend from populations that inhabited the current territory of the country at the beginning of colonization and who conserve their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions, or part of them".
In the same sense, the Law on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Communities of Oaxaca (1998: 13), in its article 3, section II, defines them as follows:
"Indigenous peoples: Those human collectivities that, for having given historical continuity to the political, economic, social and cultural institutions that their ancestors possessed before the creation of the State of Oaxaca: possess their own forms of economic, social, political and cultural organization; and freely affirm their belonging to any of the peoples mentioned in the second paragraph of Article 2 (…)".
In this review of the legal definitions of the concept of indigenous peoples we find that there is a coincidence in that it refers to those human collectivities, which are descendants of the first populations that occupied territorial spaces and continue to maintain their forms of economic, social, political and cultural organization before the arrival of those who settled in those spaces, whether by colonization or conquest.
The Zapotec indigenous community of Coatecas Altas, known as "Latiezh", is located within this framework by way of example.
Now let us see how the inhabitants of this indigenous people are called; for this we will take as an example the "Latiezh" (Zapotecos of Coatecas Altas) who in their own self-identification manifest the vision of the people, and who in their language of differentiation or mother tongue "Xti´zh Dixa´" that they use inside the village allude to someone who belongs to their context, and continue to use the conception of people: "Yhezh", a word that according to its variant of language refers to a person who belongs to the same people.
In this sense, the word people refers to a collectivity that is differentiated by the toponymy of the place where it lives, that has a territory, forms of organization with its particularities and that is also a way of recognizing and respecting that difference, although in general they belong to the same collectivity, denominated as indigenous people in the declarations and laws, for example the people "Latiezh" is self-divided in several sections and agencies more, in order to differentiate and identify itself based on a territory more limited and more concrete.
In this case it is complicated for the peoples to assume this connotation of indigenous peoples that the others do, who put in the same logic of thought and socio-political and cultural organization all, when each one has its own concepts of identification, such as the "Latiezh" (Zapotecos), the Ayuk (Mixes), the Tinujei (Triquis), and so on.
To refer to the different peoples there are different words that in their approximate translation try to tell us that they are: "Peoples settled long ago by their deities". That is why, during this work, when we refer to towns, we will be thinking from our references, in that form of "Yhezh", as defined by the Zapotecs of Coatecas Altas.
Defining community or forming community
We will review the concept of community, of which there are different definitions, which arise from different points of view, in which the interests that make this organization possible are considered; among these definitions we find the case of indigenous communities, being the one we are interested in reviewing in greater detail.
Therefore, we have that: "A community is an organization in which interests, values, emotional ties, personal relations and sense of solidarity are shared, with which a coherence and belonging to a group is exercised". (Flores, 2001:27).
In this conception we find that it is understood as an organizational unit in which there are common interests among the subjects that make them solidary. The interests can be individual or collective; their organization is not determined by time or space, in this case the important thing is the common interest.
Let us now see another conception of community: "the community is a social unit whose members participate in some common feature, interest, element or function with consciousness of belonging, located in a certain geographical area in which the plurality of persons interacts more intensely with each other […]" (Correa, 1987:17-18). In this case reference is also made to common interests and it is located in a space or territory that can be proper and common and gives the possibility of thinking that it is a territory of settlement by change of residence, but that in it common interests are created and shared in the process of interaction.
There are other specific conceptions of indigenous communities in which, from this perspective, other elements stand out that differentiate them from the definitions of community in general; for example: "there are communities that are members of an indigenous people, those that form a social, economic and cultural unit, settled in a territory and that recognize their own authorities according to their uses and customs" (Constitution, 2005:1). This definition bears some resemblance to the following quote that says:
"There are several ways of understanding the indigenous community and of referring to it: it is the housing nucleus of several families […] it is the proper and indivisible territory […] they are the people who inhabit these spaces and make community life according to their customs and in their language: it is the collectivity represented by their general assembly […] thus, the housing, the agrarian, the political and the socio-cultural are aspects that show the multiple character of the concept of community". (Maldonado, 2002:19-20).
In these definitions, the territory, social organization, political, economic and cultural stand out, although in the second definition community life and the general assembly are considered, elements that are not found in the previous ones, which is what differentiates the indigenous community from the mestizo community or another type of community.
Another definition of the indigenous community highlights another element that characterizes it: "The Indian community is made up of families whose members have a shared characteristic, live and think life collectively: it is an ethical attitude, derived from a perennial social obligation in which the person seeks human fulfillment in collectivity. (Maldonado, 2002:70)
Here the basic thing is the collective life, which forms an ethical-moral attitude of the person as a member of a collectivity in which he acquires obligations that he fulfills in benefit of the common of the members of that collectivity, in which he experiences his human realization.
In these conceptions the community is based on the collectivity as the axis, but differentiation is not given by the size of these collectivities, but by the ends and the relations they entail.
The divergences from a community in general to an indigenous community are also established, due to the territorial space in which the community develops and how it is conceived; that is to say, the functions that each integral part of the space performs in the cosmovision of the collective.
We have other definitions of community, such as the educational one, which is framed within a more concrete space, delimited by a territory, a building, its actors and ends, constructed by external agents:
"The educational community is made up of individuals who have an impact on education and pursue the objective of the integral formation of human beings for their full development and for their good coexistence in society. From such a perspective, this community is constituted by the members that make up the broad and community educational core: the family, the school and the community itself, which participates and obtains fruits from the educational institution". (Flowers, 2001:28)
After reviewing how the community is conceived and the elements that are considered for its definition, we will return to and consider the concept of community proposed by Benjamin Maldonado, considering that the community we analyzed and exemplified theoretically is a Zapotec community (Coatecas Altas), and therefore has a territory inherited by their ancestors, which reproduces and transforms their knowledge, knowledge, worldview, carry out their productive and educational practices.
When the "Latiezh" (Zapotecos of Coatecas Altas) say community, they refer to broad collective processes that revolve around common benefits, which are built with the participation of all, organized by their community representatives as authorities and guiding axes of their cultural identity.
Indigenous community education
In this space we will try to show the definitions and interpretations of formal and non-formal education, but above all, we will review the concept of community education, the axis of the work.
From governmental educational institutions, community education has been understood on the basis of two models, one called formal education, which is provided in educational institutions such as schools, in which the state is responsible for providing them with teachers and educational programs with curricula determined according to the characteristics of society that need to be trained.
Some buildings, mainly classrooms, some teaching materials, textbooks, administrative rules, certification documents, ballots and certificates, etc., but, to achieve this, the communities develop management activities, in which they invest their scarce economic resources, continuing this during the operation of the schools in rehabilitation, perimeter fencing, maintenance and construction of complementary services, which implies more expenses borne by the community.
On the other hand, there is non-formal education, which is basically called so from the state because its purpose is to do and achieve what formal education did not do during the time it served the students in their classrooms.
Therefore, it is also the product of the educational policies of the state, which, like formal education, endows it with all the essential elements: teachers, instructors, trainers, materials, programs, economic resources, which in different times and spaces have been known by different names, according to the needs that the state considers the population has, which serves as the basis for implementation in the communities, which also determines its ends.
There are proposals that are designed for the "development" of the community in its different aspects; for example Pieck says:
"Non-formal education emerges in developing countries as an alternative with the possibility of: i) solving what was seen as the limits of the formal education system to respond to the needs of the rural marginal population, and ii) mitigating unresolved development problems (such as: illiteracy, low agricultural productivity, decline in the level of quality of life, etc.)" (Pieck, 1996: 14).
It is not focused on an explicit population in the case of productivity and quality of life, but on groups of people within a community, who may be adults, youth or children.
There are also other conceptions that define non-formal education as intentional, because they have very specific purposes that are determined to cover what basic formal education has not done and that it will cover these empty spaces that have been left, these are achieved through the implementation of extracurricular programs aimed at populations of different ages:
"Non-formal education is any intentional and explicit organized effort to promote learning, through out-of-school approaches, in order to raise the quality of life. Compared to formal schooling, non-formal education has the following characteristics: it is learner-centred, its content is community-oriented, the relationship between coordinator and learner is non-hierarchical, it uses local resources, focuses on the present time, learners can be of any age. It takes place through the daily activities of mutual aid groups, agencies for human and social services, religious groups, media, clubs, etc.". (Reed, 1992:80).
Thus, others include non-formal education such as training to obtain skills and knowledge to improve the quality of life, as outlined in the following statement: "Non-formal education includes domestic courses, technical training, training for self-employment, agricultural extensionism, courses on health and hygiene, improvement of housing, etc.". (Pieck, 1996:43).
Another vision of education provided by the state is also known as community education, which "drives" the work of cooperation between schools and the different groups into which the community is divided.
This division surely has to do with those that have a more direct relationship with the school, such as parents, although it does not clearly establish what type of cooperation the community will provide with the school: "Community education: A movement that promotes cooperation between school systems and diverse groups and fractions of local communities or neighborhoods; emphasis is placed on community participation for education" (Reed, 1992:48).
This approach considers community education as work with different subjects who can form a group, which gives it a sense of community, and is developed in the diversity of ages and experiences of those who make up the group, but the person who creates and directs the actions is the teacher based on the programming established from outside the community and the group, as is the case with the National Council for the Promotion of Education (CONAFE), which defines community education in this way:
"One of the characteristics of Community Education is the work with school groups, made up of students from different levels of basic education, with different knowledge, interests and learning rhythms and, in the case of indigenous and migrant groups, girls and boys with different languages and cultures. These characteristics are recovered and work from a didactic perspective that considers that diversity enriches pedagogical practice, in such a way that the teacher facilitates interaction among his students, as the central methodological axis for the construction of knowledge". (Conafe, 2007:11).
Although a characteristic of this instance that drives the teaching in the communities, is to impart a schooled education in improvised classrooms by the own community, the education is given with the coordination of an educator called community instructor, who in some cases is original of the same community where he develops his activity as instructor and counts on the preparation of finished secondary and in some cases of finished baccalaureate, with a training of two months to work as community instructor.
These types of institutions are located in sparsely populated communities, where the regular school does not offer its service because the school population is small. It may be referred to as community education because of community participation in assuming some costs, such as improvising classrooms and providing a room for the instructor; with its own resources, as well as feeding the instructor during his or her stay in the community, but just as in formal and non-formal education, the community does not determine the programmes that are implemented with the children.
This is done through literacy programs for adults and young people who do not manage to complete their basic level studies in regular formal school, although in many cases these are not requested by the communities, but reach them by decision of the governments at their different levels, in which it is considered that it is a need of the population and of the systems to reduce the educational backwardness.
There are also other visions that approach community education, as is the case of popular education, which may start from an external approach but from that plan approaches the community where they share their knowledge and reconstruct it according to reality and concrete need, which is what is called the development of consciousness, as Freire says: "Popular education is that which, instead of denying the importance of the presence of parents, of the community, of popular movements in the school, approaches these forces and learns with them in order to be able to teach them as well" (Freire, 1998:113).
In the field of educational practice, we can observe the development of an experience of community education, which starts from the community’s point of view, and is therefore attached to its concrete needs, as Luis Enrique López suggests:
"after strong questioning of regular education, its counterproductive and ineffective effect on the teaching of reading and writing, and due to the rupture it generated with community life and its productive system, an experience of a community peasant school was created, with peasant teachers who received economic recognition from the community, under the ayni system, and who work according to a calendar in accordance with the agricultural cycle. (Lopez, 2005:292).
In these last two conceptions of community education there are signs of community participation at different levels; in the first an approach of the community with the external educational project, in which it participates and transforms it according to its vital needs, and in the second case, the approach of the educational model already arises from the needs of the community itself and agrees with its cycle of agricultural work; in this the community establishes the programs, economic resources, materials, and so on.
After going through the conception of community education, I identify that there are at least two major positions from where they are called as such. One comes from the governments, where the programs that are developed in the communities are defined, whether peasant, rural or indigenous, according to how they are determined by the governments themselves.
The other is that in which the term community education is defined in the communities themselves, from where the projects to be developed are constructed, to determine the economic and material resources to be invested and used; there is a direct participation of the local population in the development of the programs or projects, not only as assistants, but as constructors and contributors of knowledge based on their experience, interests and concrete needs, although these educational processes in many cases focus on productive activities and very few on school-based education, which does not mean that in such activities there is no construction of knowledge.
Based on this differentiation from the conception of community education, for the purposes of the research topic, when we refer to community education, we are thinking of the processes that the community employs for the transmission, recreation and reflection on its knowledge and knowledge, through its own pedagogy and resources.
Interculturality, a meeting point between equality and diversity
In the first years of the new millennium, the discussion about interculturality has gained importance, at least in Mexico, as part of the influence of other countries and of the international treaties that Mexico has recognized and signed, such as ILO Convention 169, the recent Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, of the United Nations, which supposes as a basic principle a better alternative of life in conditions of differentiated equality of the diverse peoples that inhabit the world; which also opens the space for the visibility, participation and contribution of each and every one of the peoples, especially native peoples, who for hundreds of years have been marginalized and subordinated in different aspects of daily life.
This has happened in the systems of socio-political organization, the economy, in the imposition of homogenizing languages, the implantation of a single way of understanding and relating to the cosmos and nature, as a result of the invasions and conquests that were carried out violently, physically and ideologically.
The approval and recognition of these principles, as well as in international treaties, obliges at least the implementation of two main lines of work in the countries involved; one of them aimed at raising awareness among the population, with a view to reducing and eliminating discrimination and marginalization of differentiated peoples, and the other aimed at creating legal, political and material conditions for the differentiated inclusion of peoples in national life.
This forces us to change organizational schemes, conceptions and actions that reflect the differentiated participation of governments, the mestizo society and the original peoples themselves, which materializes the recognition it has as implication and condenses with the putting into practice of their knowledge and knowledge that maintain and guide the existence of this difference, of the different peoples and societies, from which we can obtain great development proposals.
In the educational aspect, more concretely, a commitment is generated in the design of programs, which implies the direct participation of the beneficiaries in the delineation, execution and evaluation of the curriculum, taking into account that each culture has a different conception of knowledge, knowledge, techniques, modes of teaching and learning (pedagogical and didactic models), forms of organization, forms of solving social problems, ways of thinking, construction of ideologies.
With this, educational models will be constructed in, with and for diversity, to configure an intercultural education, as a space for recognition through participation and inclusion in the process, which makes equality possible, understood as a space for participation, construction and presence, not only of acceptance and obedience.
In order to understand this discussion let us review what is meant by interculturality. Some refer to the concept of interculturality from the point of view of relations between societies more directly, in a process of social relations that occur in different daily activities; other conceptions link interculturality to the educational process.
In this space we will see the interculturality focused on social relations as Abdallah-Pretceille says: "The prefix < inter> of the term intercultural, refers to the fact of having established a relationship and of taking into account the interactions of different groups, individuals and identities. (Abdallah-Pretceille, 2001:36). Or as the next quote puts it:
"(…) the intercultural model (…) promotes coexistence between the different cultures, respecting the differences of each one. In this way, it is intended that culturally diverse people get to know each other and relate to each other and that, among all of them, they seek the common and enrich themselves with the diverse." (Soriano, 2005:25).
In these two perspectives we find that they refer to the relations of cultural contact that are generated between societies, represented by their members, that at the same time are a society and are individuals bearers of the culture of that group or people to which they belong, where the axis of the relations is the coexistence that has as base the recognition of the difference and the respect to the diverse thing, which will allow the enrichment of these in the measure of its necessities and adaptations considering that the cultures are not static, they are dynamic and that they are always reproducing, re-elaborating and constructing new mechanisms and strategies of life.
As we can see here, there is no approach focusing interculturality towards certain indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, but rather they refer to societies in general.
This will allow us to visualize the dialogue that the different cultures have maintained for a long time, although in unequal conditions, as the following text tells us: "Interculturality -understood as dialogue between cultures- has been taking place since before the arrival of the Spaniards to the territory that is currently Mexico, but this dialogue has been asymmetrical and some actors -who belong to cultures considered as subaltern- have had to generate diverse mechanisms of negotiation and resistance. (Martínez, 2006:259).
Let’s take a small tour through the interior of one of the cultures of Mexico (Los Latiezh) to see how relationships are weakened and rebuilt within the same people, in contact and coexistence with the other, with migration, with the mestizo society that has even positioned itself in the same territory.
Intercultural Being: An Existing Practice or a New Way of Being?
If we start from the idea that interculturality seeks coexistence between different cultures, we would have to think that cultures or peoples that share "the same language", a territory, a name that identifies them, such as "Latiezh" (Zapotecos of Coatecas Altas), also have their particularities and cultural specificities in each community and are part of this culturally "homogeneous" people, as is conceived at this time, taking into account that as a people in all its territorial whole do not have a formal organization of their own, however, before the conquest; there were regional government centers, where they located their identity as the axis of government of the "Yhezh" people.
Now they are a dispersed people, divided into sections, agencies or sub-communities, which were formed by the growth of the population itself, by dispersion as a form of refuge and protection against the processes of invasion, or as a mechanism for seeking better territorial and climatic conditions for the reproduction of livestock and consumer agriculture and the construction of new forms of life and cultural identity.
Under whatever mechanism it was, reality shows us that indigenous peoples are divided into communities with their own organizational autonomy, such as the appointment of their authorities.
Each community decides if it does it by means of community assemblies or by the system of political parties; they decide the organization of the patronal celebrations taking into account that all have a patron saint who celebrate in different date and that makes them be very diverse; in the linguistic question there exists a diversity of dialectal variants, all this is respected by each community.
This leads us to show that indigenous peoples no longer have a political structure of their own recognized by the state, nor an organization of a regional nature; for example, there is no representation that organizes all the communities, there has never been a meeting between representatives of the communities that make up the entire territory of the "Latiezh", there is no single festival to which all the inhabitants of the village are involved together or which identifies them as such.
As a sample of the externally induced division we can observe that although it is not a proper form of organization, what is known as the "Yhezh" people, territorially and organizationally, someone divided it imaginatively in sections, naming them by numbers from the first to the fourth section, according to their geographical location and form of grouping, and that in addition, they adopted a particular identity of the section with which each of the families that are found in those territorial spaces proper to the community are identified.
If we go a little deeper into the organizational issue of the people "Latiezh", we can point out as correct that, currently there is a Municipal Development Council, however, is intended to include more actors in society to have representation and impact on the Council, so that cultural decisions are made, economic, social, ecological, etc., which affect the entire municipal territory for the benefit of the community.
However, there are what the state administratively calls Agencies or localities, which is the most basic form of territorial and population division; all this organizational complex that the state was implementing in indigenous peoples allows us to understand why they are fractionated, and distant from themselves in their own territory.
It is more complicated in the cases of neighboring communities that face ideological and/or territorial conflicts; this separation necessarily brings with it generalized cultural patterns, and where each one of them has its particularities, according to the level of influence and contact: labor relations, trade, migration with other indigenous peoples and mestizo society, such as the use of medicine, agricultural work, forms of oral production, etcetera.
However, we have our mother tongue "Xti´zh Dixa´" element that identifies us above all this complex set of factors that distance us: we share the same history of origin and development of our mother culture, our indigenous spirituality with its own particularities in each of the communities, community education, the economy, identity, our worldview, etc.; cultural components that are of paramount importance within our identity as "Latiezh".
Faced with these realities that indigenous peoples live, when addressing the intercultural issue we must take into account that it must not only be focused and directed to the coexistence and relations of indigenous peoples with non-indigenous peoples, but it is a much more complex issue, because we have to think about the relations between communities of indigenous peoples, in the case of those who live on cultural and territorial borders and those who for reasons of population movement establish contact, either in their own territories or in others; the relations between communities of the same people, who although they share general cultural features, have created or modified their own, according to their needs and conditions, but have created or modified their own, according to their needs and conditions.
Taking into account also the territorial and organizational division under which the state organizes them, we have the municipalities, which in turn are divided into Municipal agencies or Rural Police, which generates a form of separation and also of organization where they create, transform and reproduce their own cultural elements, giving rise to what we can call relations of communities of the same municipality.
We also find the relationships between non-indigenous communities, which also exist in indigenous territory. Important in this process of social relations is the level of inequality with which they establish contact, for example the administrative and territorial division that the society in power has imposed on indigenous peoples, commercial, economic and communication relations.
Therefore, interculturality is complex and broader; in its most general conception, social relations are raised around its vital aspects, among which education is visualized as a field for working on interculturality, taking into account that the function of education is to form for life, but not only for a future and uncertain life, but also for the present life, the present that sets precedents for the construction of the future, must have its place and priority.
In this case, in the field of interculturality, education is the dimension I am interested in deepening in the present research, so I will review the intercultural approaches in education, to see how these general approaches to interculturality are understood.
In Mexico we start from what is established in the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, which in general terms recognizes the diversity of cultures that make up the national territory and the right of access to an education that considers their own culture without leaving aside the national culture, in which the indigenous communities themselves have participation in the design of regional contents and programs, as stipulated in Article 2. Section B. section II.
"To guarantee and increase levels of schooling, favouring bilingual and intercultural education, literacy, completion of basic education, productive training and secondary, higher and higher education. Establish a scholarship system for indigenous students at all levels. Define and develop regional educational programmes that recognize the cultural heritage of their peoples, in accordance with the relevant laws and in consultation with indigenous communities. Promote respect and knowledge of the diverse cultures existing in the nation." (Constitution, 2005:7).
Although this approach does not clearly establish the specific processes for the development of education for indigenous peoples, it is noted that interculturality is aimed at these peoples, and there is no generalization of the education received by the national population.
Let us review another document, which is the axis of the subsystem of education focused on the attention of the indigenous population, the General Guidelines for Intercultural Bilingual Education for Indigenous Girls and Boys, and we find that:
"Intercultural education shall be understood as education that addresses cultural and linguistic diversity, promotes the right to be different and respect for differences, promotes the formation and development of local, regional and national identity, as well as the development of attitudes and practices that tend to overcome social inequalities. (SEP-DGEI, 1999:7).
The general document that guides educational practice is the Plan and Programs of Study 1993, for basic primary education. The term intercultural does not appear; one finds a paragraph that says:
"It has been considered indispensable to select and organize the educational contents that the school offers, obeying clear priorities, eliminating dispersion and establishing sufficient flexibility for teachers to use their experience and initiative and for the local and regional reality to be used as an educational element" (SEP, 1993:10).
If we make an interpretation we would have to look for explanations that would allow us to see what the "elimination of the dispersed" refers to and "the local and regional reality is taken advantage of as an educational element", which can probably help us to understand whether local culture is considered as an element of learning and teaching from its own organizational schemes or restructured under the vision of Western knowledge to arrive at a homogenization, o that the local and regional reality is merely a space for the application and exercise of what the school teaches, i.e. the putting into practice of the knowledge that the school develops, without taking into account the knowledge and knowledge that the community uses in its daily life.
As can be seen, official documents and norms do not clearly mention the incorporation of indigenous culture in the educational process and if there are any guidelines, they are focused on development only with indigenous populations; they do not take into account the fact that indigenous peoples today do not live in isolation from mestizos.
Furthermore, this educational concept continues to have a vision of exclusion, in the sense that it is the indigenous who must be intercultural. In the face of this, the questions arise: do the relationships that forge the contact of cultures only occur between indigenous people?
Do not indigenous people know how to live in intercultural relations? Have mestizo populations learned to live in intercultural relations? Is the intercultural question only for some or for all of us who live together and share the same territory? What we find in these legal frameworks leads us to review other approaches to intercultural education. Luis Enrique Lopez argues that:
"The intercultural perspective is destined to permeate the curriculum not only in terms of the inclusion of contents referring to the knowledge, knowledge, values and attitudes of the various indigenous peoples that make up the country, but also in terms of pedagogical approaches, methodologies and, above all, a new pedagogical practice based on the need to create spaces for dialogue and exchange of visions and ways of reading and understanding reality and the world around us. Next to them will be those hegemonic curricular contents and practices, related only to one of the faces that this country has". (Lopez, 2005:206).
In this way of conceiving interculturality, we find that two elements stand out: the incorporation of the contents of the various indigenous peoples into the curriculum and the pedagogical approaches with which they are developed, which is equivalent to dialogue on equal terms and, above all, in the exchange and contrasting of visions. Let’s see another way of conceiving interculturality, in the following quotation:
"Education and school must prepare for life, nothing more and nothing less. And life changes, people change…, so the education that prepares "now" is doing it for a future society that it does not know, that surely is going to be different from the present moment…, but it has the responsibility to form the citizens of the immediate future in an adequate way, so that they are able to continue learning throughout their own life, receiving the changes and directing those same changes,(…)" (Soriano, 2005:38).
This perspective makes an observation around the idea that school and education have had as an aim to prepare for life, but a future life, which in many cases has nothing to do with the time that the subject lives, with that daily reality of the community.
Therefore, their needs are not resolved with the support of the school, but by its own mechanisms, which it implements and which it reproduces in a community manner, such as tequio, gueza, service, etc.
In this vein, it is necessary to reorient what the role of the school should be in this intercultural approach, in which there should not only be a preparation for a very distant future, but also allow the subject to learn and apply their knowledge to their current reality and the one they will face in the future. Another version of interculturality in education says:
"(…) education should be pluralized and the programmes of the famous national educations should be cancelled (…) that is, education as an instrument of a national State, as a reproducer of the national memory written in terms of a more or less homogeneous nation (…) of educating for a uniform life that ignores the diversity of the historical memories of this continent. So-called national education does not account for Latin American diversity." (Fornet, 2004:50).
These concepts lead us along the path of seeing the need to build intercultural education, from the clarity of how it is conceived in the bases of education policies to generate conditions of equality in education curricula, which will legalize the incorporation of local content in national programs, which will lead to recognition through respect between cultures that converge in different spaces and situations.
In this journey through the perspectives of intercultural education, at the level of laws we find intentions that favor the construction of an education that considers diversity, although always seen and designed under the scheme and direction of Western culture, other opinions suggest more precise elements that should intervene for the implementation of an intercultural education from and with the peoples involved, where the knowledge and knowledge of the different peoples that coexist in these spaces are taken into account and developed, not as a bridge to access only to knowledge and understanding of the ways of life of the other.
They represent different ways of conceiving, interpreting and understanding the phenomena, circumstances and causes that produce them, which are valid because they have served for the development and existence of these peoples and which serve to have and know different ways of conceiving the world, which reinforce the identity of children, valuing that what is known in the locality is also valid as knowledge that must be analysed and discussed in the classroom and that has its own explanation.
For this reason, we conceive intercultural education as that which is built with the participation of the bearers of different cultures, under the logic and cultural scheme with which it is practiced, produced, reproduced and recreated, its basis being the concepts with which it is known in each of the cultures’ own languages.
For this reason, when trying to develop intercultural education, it should be based on the logic of the cultures in question, not on the scheme of the dominant culture or of a single culture, as is currently the case, because there is a process of adaptation or transfer of content schemes, as has been done in most schools, and deep approaches are distorted, avoiding intercultural coexistence.
The Integral Indigenous Educational Model (MEII)
An alternative for the indigenous educational rescue is the proposal of the Integral Indigenous Educational Model, to which, before finishing this investigation, we consider pertinent to give a special place, denoting that the union of efforts and the good will of the organizations and groups participating in the indigenous community formation can be elements managers of change and cultural rescue of the community identity of our native peoples.
The project called Modelo Educativo Integral Indígena (MEII) has its genesis in the petition of a group of teachers from the community of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Oax, who, accompanied and advised by SEP officials, initiated the design of a new high school model for the institution that operated in that community.
Due to the success achieved in this project, in November 2000, the Government of Oaxaca formally requested the SEP to multiply the experience of Tlahuitoltepec in the seven regions of the State, and began in September 2001, the operation of 12 Community Integrated Baccalaureates (BIC), under the direct responsibility of the Coordination of Higher and Higher Secondary Education of the State Institute of Public Education of Oaxaca, SEP. (MEII, 2016:8).
All of them coordinated by CSEIIO (Colegio Superior para la Educación Integral Intercultural de Oaxaca), where a group of professionals, most of them non-indigenous, is hired to start high school, with whom an educational model is designed based on the Ayuujk Polivalente Comprehensive Community High School (BICAP) of Tlahuitoltepec, but which considers other normative and cultural aspects framed in the cultural and linguistic rescue, which is called Modelo Educativo Integral Indígena (MEII), which is called Modelo Educativo Integral Indígena (MEII) (Indigenous Comprehensive Educational Model).
The Integral Indigenous Educational Model works through the implementation of a modular system whose intention is to offer an equitable education pertinent to the real needs of the communities and indigenous peoples of the state, which takes up the worldview of the peoples to recover and strengthen, from the educational context, the social, linguistic and cultural identity of the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca.
Currently in 2018, there are 48 Community Integrated High Schools in the state of Oaxaca, and as this educational model is implemented in them, there is a need to strengthen it and implement operational mechanisms to achieve the objectives that were set from the outset with this project, such as: rescue the mother tongue and community culture, preserve and revalue cultural identity, and link the school with the community so that it can participate in productive cultural and intercultural rescue projects.
By taking a brief look at education, but basically at the ways in which education is given to indigenous peoples, at indigenous education schools and at general schools, one can see how these in some way marginalize in different ways the cultural elements of indigenous peoples, which serves as a basis for the indigenous themselves to gradually devalue their culture and this is stopped every day from reproducing with the new generations, although there are practices that are still in force but its deep meaning is ignored or changes, as happens with the relationship man-nature, which is seen as a material object and with a commercial economic purpose, no longer as a relationship process that is based on reciprocity that frames spirituality between the subject and the land.
On the other hand, this journey takes us back to the current practices that the original communities develop, which allows us to observe the structure of the ways of thinking, defining, communicating, understanding and relating to nature and among the subjects of the culture, which seems to us a richness in content from its own logic and which is valid to develop not only in the school but in the community itself, because it constitutes a pedagogical option that communities have used to transmit and apprehend knowledge, which, although it occurs from generation to generation, is not only a mechanical form of repetition but a whole process of learning through practice with accompaniment.
Finally, as an option for intercultural education that takes into account equality in difference, based on the practices reviewed in schools and in the indigenous community, we find as a viable alternative the educational philosophy of cultural rescue proposed by the Integral Indigenous Educational Model called MEII, a very viable proposal to avoid the globalizing and hegemonic imposition of current educational policies that prevail in our country, encouraging the relegation of indigenous communities.
Therefore, not only should the example of the MEII be considered, it is proposed that the conditions for the development of an educational-community identity be built in schools, which implies that there are certain transformations in the relationship and conception of education among teachers, principals, young people, parents, and authorities at different levels.
It is necessary that the contents worked in the school arise from the cultures that converge in the community, including the one that the school itself is reproducing, but that above all, the contents are taken according to the logical structure that the cultures in question have created and manage in their process of reproduction and living; where it does not fit and it is not convenient that these are only worked by means of the translation and adjust to the structure of the Spanish, because it is there where its deepest sense is lost, since in each language the expression is different and in each culture its sense makes reference and looks of different way to the same subject.
Sources of information
- Abdallah-Pretceille, Martine. (2001). Intercultural education. Spain: Idea Books.
- National Council for the Promotion of Education – CONAFE. (2002). Educational programs. Mexico
- Political Constitution of the United Mexican States. (2005). Mexico
- Correa, Esperanza and Alfredo Correa (1987). School and community participation. Argentina: Humanitas.
- Flores Garza, Olivia. (2001) School and community. Mexico Threshing.
- Freire, Paulo (1998). Politics and education. Mexico: 21st Century.
- Fornet-Betancourt, Raúl. (2004). Reflections by Raúl Fornet-Betancourt on the concept of interculturality. Mexico: Intercultural Consortium.
- Law on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Communities of Oaxaca. (1998). Oaxaca, Mexico.
- López, Luis Enrique. (2005). From loopholes to boquerones, bilingual intercultural education in Bolivia. Bolivia: Plural Editores.
- Damn you, Benjamin. (2002). Indian autonomy and communality, approaches and proposals from Oaxaca. Mexico: CONACULTA-INAH.
- Martinez, Regina. (2006). Diversity and Intercultural Education, in: Multiculturalism, Challenges and Perspectives. Mexico: The School of Mexico – 21st Century.
- Comprehensive Indigenous Educational Model (MEII). Official document republished by the CSEIIO in 2016.
- Pieck, Enrique. (1996). Social function and meaning of community education, a sociology of non-formal education. Mexico: El Colegio Mexiquense- UNESCO.
- Reed, Horace B. Elizabeth Lee Loughran. (1992). Beyond schools, education for economic, social, and personal development. Mexico: Gernika.
- SEP (1993). Plan and programs of study 1993, of basic primary education. Mexico: SEP.
- SEP-DGEI. (1999). General guidelines for bilingual intercultural education for indigenous children. Mexico: SEP-DGEI.
- Soriano, Encarnación (coord.) (2005). Interculturality as a factor of educational quality. Madrid: La Muralla.
About the Authors:
- Andrea Santos Garcia. Student of Indigenous Intercultural Education at BI 46, belonging to the Colegio Superior para la Educación Integral Intercultural de Oaxaca (CSEIIO).
- Crescencio Martínez Antonio. Student of Indigenous Intercultural Education at BI 46, belonging to the Colegio Superior para la Educación Integral Intercultural de Oaxaca (CSEIIO).
- Alex Ramirez Martinez. Student of Indigenous Intercultural Education at BI 46, belonging to the Colegio Superior para la Educación Integral Intercultural de Oaxaca (CSEIIO).
- Francis Ordaz Ramirez. Student of Indigenous Intercultural Education at BI 46, belonging to the Colegio Superior para la Educación Integral Intercultural de Oaxaca (CSEIIO).
- Alan Tonatiuh Lopez Niño. Master’s Degree in Social Sciences Pedagogy and PhD Student in Educational Research. Advisor-Researcher at the Colegio Superior para la Educación Integral Intercultural de Oaxaca (CSEIIO).
This is an automated translation from the original article in Spanish.
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