‘Curriculum of Naga indigenousness need of the hour’
Kohima, June 14 (EMN): Sensing the “erosion” of traditional values and indigenous knowledge passed down by ancestors, Nagaland Education Association (NEA) called for promotion and implementation of the Naga indigenous system of education in academics.
“A school curriculum of Naga indigenousness is the need of the hour for the children of Nagaland to learn our rich intellectual, cultural values and heritages so as to inculcate in children a strong sense of love for Naga patriotism”, President of NEA, Dr. Zavise Rume said, addressing a press conference in Kohima on Tuesday.
He said that the state must inculcate in Naga students a ‘rootedness and pride’ in being Nagas and their rich and diverse ancient and modern cultures, traditions and indigenous knowledge system.
The modern education system needs its own basis founded on one’s own culture, tradition and values practised by the people, he added.
Rume said that the education system cannot flourish by merely importing or borrowing the education system that is happening around the world. Rather, it must play multiple roles in strengthening the Naga identity intimately associated with the study of the rich Naga cultural heritages and traditional values.
“Our education system must respond to the needs and aspirations of the people of Nagaland”, he said while adding that an indigenous Naga curriculum would celebrate the ideas of the Naga philosophers, thinkers, leaders, parents, and elders.
Indigenous practices influenced by pragmatism
Prior to the modern school education introduced in Nagaland, Nagas did not have any formal system of instruction. However, Nagas had their own refined system of learning and Nagaland was a storehouse of vast indigenous knowledge, Rume said.
“We had a unique method of learning through hands-on practical experiences, practical life and oral tradition. These indigenous practices were influenced by deeply rooted Naga’s ethos of pragmatism”, he pointed out.
He then urged for an immediate need to bring back the “great Naga tradition” to the school system of education to produce well-rounded and productive individuals.
“The school curriculum must inculcate and nurture in children a sense of pride in being a Naga, a rootedness and pride in Nagaland, and its rich, diverse, ancient and modern culture and knowledge systems and traditions”, he said.
Stressing further, he said that activity-based and practical-oriented learning were the most significant methods of the Naga indigenous education, which needs to be promoted in school education.
“Nagas had a strong belief that experience and practice come first before learning, and experience precedes ideas. According to this philosophy, children were guided by the reality of the real world. The Naga philosophy of foundational learning forms the basis of all future learning experiences,” he informed.
Rume, who is also an assistant professor at Nagaland State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT), said the National Education Policy 2020 is committed to promoting tribal knowledge and indigenous and traditional ways of learning and introducing specific courses in tribal ethno-medicinal practices, forest management, traditional (organic) crop cultivation, natural farming. The policy is also committed to introducing a course of study on Indian knowledge systems for students in secondary school as an elective.
“Along the line of national policies, education in Nagaland needs to be deeply rooted in Naga reality and its composite culture promoted by the modern advancement of science and technology.
“It must be sustained and promoted through active support of the societies that are traditional storehouses of the indigenous knowledge such as villagers or tribes, social organisations and the environment in which they live.
“The Naga tribal knowledge systems, including indigenous and traditional ways of learning, should be included in various subjects of academic studies. All local languages in Nagaland and their associated arts and culture should be documented through a web-based platform/portal/wiki order. Textbooks should be prepared with local contents and flavour drawn from tribal indigenous knowledge such as ethno-botanical, medicinal, ecological knowledge crop cultivation, natural farming, indigenous arts, games and sports,” he said.
He further added that teachers must be trained in art-integrated pedagogy. Indigenous toys and games, folklores, poems, songs, etc. must form an integral part of the curriculum.
No culture is inferior
Former Director SCERT, Nagaland, Vipralhou Kesiezie, said that when it comes to the actual textual learning content, one finds nothing about the diverse cultures of India except the culture of the ruling people who are the majority in India.
“It is so embarrassing and conspicuous to find that hardly anything is mentioned about the people and the culture of Northeast India in the textbooks read by the students in the country. Therefore, it is nothing less than a cultural invasion of the majority over the minorities.
“As a result of the lopsided policy of the system of education in India, many cultures in India are put into the danger of extinction. The unfortunate alienation is mostly felt by the tribal-dominated people in the NE region of India. Therefore, many times the NEP guidelines are found to be farcical because we find nothing about our tribal cultures when it comes to implementation in the real classroom situation”, he asserted.
He went on to add that the indigenous tribal cultures’ knowledge and their ways of life are in no way inferior to any other culture.
State Curriculum Framework draft ready
Rume also informed that the draft of the State Curriculum Framework (SCF) is ready and will be presented before the state scholars/ researchers/ intellectuals for review. Their ideas and opinions of the framework would be taken into consideration.
Under the NEP 2020, each state was given the responsibility to develop a state curriculum framework. In Nagaland, the SCERT was tasked to bring out the framework where 25 different subject titles are to be created. He added that SCF incorporated the Naga values.
The SCF will serve as comprehensive guidelines for the educationists and academicians to develop textbooks and curricula to be studied by the children.
‘A lot of changes are expected to happen once the framework is implemented’, he said.