Re-examining the Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in the Western Environmental Education for Sustainability: “From Tribal to Mainstream Education”

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Abstract

This paper highlights the importance of integrating indigenous perspectives on environmental sustainability into mainstream education as a way of bridging the gap in the understanding of indigenous knowledge systems into Western science explanations of sustainable development (SD) in education, at the same time ensuring traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) continuity for future generations as well as taking a steady stand in the global debates on SD. The first part of the paper will attempt to explore the issue of SD through Western and indigenous perspectives and will emphasise on the model of strong sustainability (in theory). Secondly, the importance of TEK will be examined and justified through case studies on Aboriginal peoples of British Colombia and Roviana people of Solomon Islands in achieving goals of sustainability. Thirdly, challenges for TEK will be investigated and some possibilities of protecting the rapid disappearance of indigenous knowledge will be dealt with. Lastly, a pedagogical approach to sustainability will be provided that postulates the relevance of indigenous pedagogy to formal and informal education, attempting to integrate Tilburyís (1995) characteristics of environmental education for sustainability.

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