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Supporting Indigenous Peoples: the Footholds in the Hills project Worldwide there are more than 300 million indigenous people, sometimes referred to as members of First Nations. The Bernard van Leer Foundation has been supporting local organisations that represent the interests of First Nations for over thirty years on various continents. During the past five years, we have worked with around 18 organisations, primarily in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. We relate to a wide range of resource people and institutions who represent their interests; and we actively contribute to the international dialogue about indigenous people with a special focus on children. Based on our experience of supporting children growing up in these communities, and in consultation with indigenous peoples, the Foundation’s support generally follows four main streams: 1. helping to ensure the rights of children growing up in communities of indigenous people, as defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the people themselves; 2. ensuring the education of these children, with a focus on both content and process; 3. building on collective identity and culture to strengthen pyscho-social development; and 4. promoting the versatile skills that First Nation people have in raising children in the first three years. One example of the work we support is that of the Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture Association in Thailand ().  works in five Lisu and six Pgagenyaw communities, all located in the mountains around Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. It aims to strengthen tribal children from the highlands educationally and personally through a process of cultural regeneration.  takes the line that, through early childhood development (), communities can work

Bernard van Leer Foundation

towards developing local leadership, transmitting local knowledge and restoring the relationships between generations. Since the start of the project in 1999,  has initiated activities that build on their own study of traditional knowledge about pregnancy, birth and infancy. One outcome is the development of an  curriculum that incorporates local knowledge and practices, and that is complemented by the development of indigenous teaching/learning materials. Another is providing additional support to preschools by bringing in Elders and others familiar with traditional customs – something that also helps to restore the intergenerational processes that transmit local knowledge to young children. All of this recognises that highland tribal celebrations, rituals, and customs are a central influence in both preschool routines and in village life, and that children occupy a very important position in these communities. Preschools are therefore open to the community and become more a part of community life. This reinforces the integration of their programmes and stimulates activities in the community around indigenous culture and practices pertaining to young children. In 2001, we made an additional grant for work to link culture, preschool and broad-based education in a process that will give tribal children alternatives and options for their future. This grant will also enable bicultural education in preschools and in the community to be extended to children in six more tribal groups. The curriculum that has been developed will be refined and a similar curriculum development process will be launched in the new communities. Capacity building for  personnel, preschool

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An n u a l R e p o r t

Annual Report 2001  

The Bernard van Leer Foundation's Annual Report for 2001. With reports on the Effectiveness Initiative, Tracer Studies, the Oscar van Leer A...

Annual Report 2001  

The Bernard van Leer Foundation's Annual Report for 2001. With reports on the Effectiveness Initiative, Tracer Studies, the Oscar van Leer A...