Indian Teachers Urge More Indian Participation in Their Own Affairs

Eight indigenous peoples in the state of Pernambuco held the 15th Meeting of the Indigenous Teachers’ Commission of Pernambuco (Copipe) on July 5-9.

Teachers of both genders discussed policies for indigenous school education and the relations between the teachers’ movement and the indigenous movement in general. The meeting, which is referred to as the "big meeting" by the participants, was held in the Mina Grande village, where the Kapinawá people live.

One of the main objectives of the meeting was to develop closer relations between the teachers’ movement and the entity which represents indigenous peoples in the northeast region (Apoinme).

The teachers’ movement has been discussing in detail educational topics and how indigenous school education should be managed. According to them, education is linked to all other aspects of the indigenous way of living in the communities.

The movement also says that in order to ensure quality schools and a quality education, indigenous lands must be demarcated and public policies must be available which will only be created as a result of pressures from all the indigenous movement.

In the final analysis, actions to structure the indigenous school education can only be taken if there is a strong indigenous movement, they say.

For this reason, the teachers decided to strengthen Apoinme. With this purpose in mind, they suggested that the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of the Northeast Region, Minas Gerais and Espí­rito Santo should invest in holding "big meetings" to discuss in detail issues such as the relations between indigenous peoples and the State and topics such as indigenous lands, health care and education, besides increasing the knowledge on indigenous peoples and exchanges among them.

The teachers also reinforced the importance of taking advantage of articulation spaces which already exist within each community to involve all the indigenous movement in the debate and bring new points of view to the discussions. Among these spaces, special mention was made of indigenous schools.

A new meeting of the movements was scheduled to be held in November with the presence of representatives of supporting organizations such as Cimi (Indianist Missionary Council) and the Luiz Freire Cultural Center.

Another important topic was the participation of the movement in the 5th State Conference on Indigenous Education, which is scheduled to be held in August and will be attended by about 400 participants, most of whom indigenous people.

One of the topics that will be discussed in the Conference is the importance of the participation of indigenous communities in the process of selecting indigenous teachers.

According to the movement in Pernambuco, the process of hiring teachers should be jointly assessed with indigenous leaders and the teachers who are hired must have the profile defined by the people they will be serving.

"The logic of using competitive public examinations is not the logic of indigenous peoples in Pernambuco. Competitive examinations are applied in our country for different reasons, such as for eliminating nepotism and measuring competencies. This is not our case.

"We are teachers whose legitimacy has been endorsed by our communities, we were chosen by them and we have the profile built by each of them for their indigenous teachers and, therefore, there is nothing more to be selected.

"In our case, why hold competitive examinations?", asked teacher Pretinha Truká. The Conference will also discuss measures to structure the indigenous education subsystem in the state as a core topic. 

One of the features of the "big meetings" – and one which makes them different from other meetings – is that the participation of the teachers is paid for by them with their own salaries and by their communities, which, realizing the importance of the discussions, organized themselves to share their travel and lodging costs.

The meeting was attended by the following indigenous peoples: Atikum, Kapinawá, Kambiwá, Pankararu, Pankará, Pipipã, Truká and Xukuru.

Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council – www.cimi.org.br

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