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Session Overview
3-HP100 - 1/2: Education and Social Justice in the Pluriverse - 1/2
Tuesday, 06/July/2021:
2:00pm - 3:15pm

Session Chair: Dr. Paola Minoia, University of Helsinki, Finland
Session Chair: Dr. Johanna Maaria Hohenthal, University of Helsinki, Finland
Session Chair: Dr. Tuija Marita Veintie, University of Helsinki, Finland

Session Abstract

The SDG4 aims to promote social justice through engagement on “quality education for all”. However, it does not consider epistemic diversity of the world and the right to alternative ways of learning and knowledge production. Neither does it contain any reference to the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. Thus, Indigenous perspectives, knowledges and alternative forms of education remain marginalized in state-led and other development programs that typically reproduce models of neoliberal multiculturalism and fail to promote equal relations among existing cultures. This session welcomes papers that discuss pluriversal educational alternatives and critical intercultural education in diverse contexts.

EADI Working Group: Post- and Decolonial Perspectives on Development

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Intercultural Education in Ecuador: Epistemic Rights and Territorial Struggles in the Ecuadorian Amazonia

Paola Minoia1, Andres Tapia2

1University of Helsinki, Finland; 2CONFENIAE, Ecuador

The colonial legacy of Ecuador marks, still nowadays, the political relations between central government and indigenous nationalities and ethnic groups. Our specific focus is on Pastaza, an Amazonian region that hosts a rich biological and cultural diversity and 7 out of the 14 recognized nationalities in Ecuador: Achuar, Andoa, Shuar, Kichwa, Sàpara, Shiwiar y Waorani. All of them are in strong pressure for cultural assimilation, migration, loss of land and continuous attacks from extractive industries.

Territorial restitution is at the basis of protests that started by the First Indigenous Uprising of 1990 and the 1992 March of the Pastaza people and lead to the State recognition of indigenous territorial rights. Later, more recent mobilizations were organized against the governmental National Secretary of Planning and Development (2007-2017) that enforced oil extractionism in the territories of the nationalities. Despite the 2008 Constitution declaring the intercultural and plurinational State, territorial autonomy and self-determination is far from being respected.

Education has an immense importance on either sides, both for the central government and the national organizations. Education politics can be combined, and provide meaning, to other territorializing strategies. Emancipatory struggles lead by the indigenous organizations have involved intercultural bilingual education as a practice of social inclusion, ontological recognition and revitalization of ecological and cultural knowledge of indigenous people and nations in formal education. The theme of education and power in Ecuador has been addressed within the decolonial thinking of modernity/coloniality (Quijano 2007; Walsh and Mignolo 2018). Therefore, education/knowledge and pedagogical designs are at the chore of political debates between the indigenous organizations and the central state. Also during the recent upraises of October 2019 in the whole country, the confrontation includes, among other stakes, the issues of school distribution and models of spread community schools, against the centralized establishments that from the previous decade had caused mobility of families and de-rooting of youths. The indigenous education claims involve visions beyond the primary or secondary schooling: they include pedagogies and scientific researches that would respond solidly to the needs of keeping marginalized knowledge alive.

Territories are here understood as space-time - or better, place-historical - categories in which community practices are validated, and where eco-cultural ancestral knowledges of the indigenous people (Sacha Runa Yachay) are reproduced and revitalized in unity with the earth (Sumak Allpa). Moreover, territories are claimed as political spaces linking communities and their representative organizations in struggles for territorial justice. Including territoriality in the Bilingual Intercultural Education (BIE) model supports a discussion on inclusion, recognition and updating of the eco-cultural knowledge of Amazonian indigenous peoples and nationalities for quality education for the Kichwa Pastaza nationality and public policies in the educational field at secondary and higher level in both the BIE model and the conventional education system.

Our focus is on public policies on education and the debate linking interculturality, territory-territoriality and plurinationalism, with examples from upper secondary schools and education programmes activated in the Pastaza province. In particular, we will present the Kawsak Sacha (living forest) programme initiated in the kichwa community of Sarayaku and spread towards other communities as a planning initiative for the survival of the forest that is also engaging schools.


Intercultural education, decolonial thinking, indigenous nationalities, territorial justice, Kawsak Sacha


Quijano, A. (2007). Coloniality and modernity/rationality. Cultural Studies, 21(2-3), 168–178.

Mignolo W. and Walsh K. (2018). On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis. Durham:Duke University Press.

“We Bring a Lot to Life”: Internationalization of Intercultural Higher Education for Sustainable Development

Amanda Earl

Teachers College, Columbia University, United States of America

In recent decades there has been a push for the creation of Indigenous and intercultural universities not only as a solution to low postsecondary attainment among historically marginalized youth, but also as a step toward a “multicultural” citizenship (Rosaldo, 1994). Decolonial scholars emphasize the potential of such university programs to promote the revalorization of subaltern knowledges (de Sousa Santos, 2017), of Indigenous cosmovisions and activism (Mignolo & Walsh, 2018), and of human and cultural rights (Schmelkes, 2014). As higher education gains increased focus in the post-2015 development agenda (McCowan, 2016), intercultural universities merit theoretical and empirical attention as unique learning sites to engender alternative ways of conceiving of the relationship of humans to the natural world, and therefore of promoting sustainable development from a pluricultural perspective. Departing from the authors’ experiences engaging in participatory research and teaching at La Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural (La UVI), a public university designed to serve rural students in an Indigenous region of Veracruz State, Mexico, this paper seeks to shed qualitative light on how internationalization of an intercultural curriculum can support, but also present challenges for, the university’s overall aim to foster “a dialogue of knowledges… [to promote] the achievement of a better quality of life with sustainability” (UVI, 2019).

Proponents of interculturalism emphasize its ability to foment social inclusion, foster dialogue between different members of society, promote dismantling of structural inequalities, and to support linguistic and epistemic pluralism (Barrett, 2013; Bertely Busquets, 2011). In the context of Latin America, intercultural education is often aimed at recognizing the racial, ethnic, epistemic, and linguistic diversity that was suppressed by the European conquest and colonization and continues to operate through the coloniality of power (Quijano, 2000; López, 2014). Mexico’s public system of 10 Intercultural Universities seeks to address the issues of access and relevance of higher education through curricula that revalue students’ local languages, cultures, and knowledges. La UVI offers one bachelor’s degree in “intercultural management for development” whose objective is to develop cultural mediators, trained in carrying out community-linked and participatory research, who do not migrate but remain in their native communities to apply their intercultural knowledge “to solve the main socioenvironmental problems [of their region]…” (UVI, 2007, pp. 65-6).

However, in recent years, the larger public university of which La UVI is a subsystem has made a push, as have many universities globally, to promote the internationalization of both its student body, through study abroad programs, and its academic program, through the transversal introduction of international issues, perspectives, and scholarship across classes. This creates a pedagogical need to strike a balance between prioritizing local contexts, cultures, and languages and linking them to international issues and conversations conducted in colonial languages. Thus, we ask: how might intercultural education be enhanced and/or challenged through internationalization of the curriculum and student body? What benefits might internationalization bring particularly as they pertain to educating for epistemic diversity and sustainable development through an intercultural curriculum?

Analysis of data from interviews and participant observation shows that internationalization efforts provide opportunities for students and professors alike to develop new competencies, perspectives, and values toward sustainable development and to compare and complement them with local knowledges and contexts. Engaging in dialogue with foreign communities can provide theoretical and practical insights for students to improve their local endeavors once returning “home.” Further, study abroad contributes to educational and epistemic justice by ensuring that even the most marginalized students have access to a wider panorama of learning opportunities. However, efforts to internationalize also present cultural, academic, and material challenges for students and professors whose time and economic resources are already limited more than most.

Aligning ‘Quality’ and ‘Equity’ in Higher Education – the Repair of Decoloniality and the Tasks of Undone Science

Su-ming Khoo

National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

This paper interrogates the suture between ‘quality’, inclusion and equity implied by SDG4 in relation to higher education. It explores the juxtaposition of two drivers and trajectories of decoloniality – the revolutionary desire for acts of epistemic delinking and disobedience (Mignolo 2007; 2009) to smash or at least crack the colonial-modern imaginary of knowledge, power and economy (Brydon, 2010). Ai Wei Wei’s artwork ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’ (1995, see Yap 2012) offers a provocative metaphor for destroying the civilizational-cultural ‘readymade’. The other imperative is a conservationist and possibly subversive dual idea of ‘repair’ as a mending of brokenness through the tradition of ‘golden repair’ (kintsugi) or a voyage of return for equitable relations, via struggles for critical decolonial re-articulation and transformation (compare the works of Attia 2013), in a difficult context of increasing demands and diminishing resources (QQ1 2012)

The ‘quality’ agenda for (higher) education may have failed to converge with urgent societal demands to address inequity and social injustice (Martin 2009; 2010; Newsinger 2016). As Tuck and Yang argue, ‘decolonization is not a metaphor’, but an articulation of concrete demands for specific material forms of social justice: in their Canadian settler-colonial context, the repatriation of Indigenous land and life. Current conceptions of quality have reinforced divergent, inequitable and exclusionary tendencies and processes in already-inequitable higher education. This makes it unlikely and perhaps impossible for higher education to successfully fulfil demands for equity and transformation (Stein 2018).

Drawing on recent collective experiences and conversations in the EADI Convivial Thinking collaborative, and the BCAUSE collaborative research project in Ireland and South Africa, this paper discusses the centrality of epistemic pluralization as a project and examines attempts to think through epistemic challenge and transformation as non-abstract, practical, problems for the everyday collaborative work of higher education, both within Europe and between Europe and its Others. It assesses the potential of ‘rebellion’ and ‘repair’ in relation to how we think about the ‘quality’ and ‘impact’ in academic work and argues for ‘undone science’ and continuous ‘border thinking’ as ongoing and central tasks.


Attia, Kader (2013) The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures. Berlin: The Green Box Kunstedition

Brydon, Diana (2010) Cracking imaginaries: studying the global from Canadian space, 9n Wilson, J.; Sandru, C.; Welsh,S.L. (Eds) Resrouting the Postcolonial: New directions for the new millennium. London: Routledge

Lessenich, Stephan (2019) Living Well at Others' Expense: The Hidden Costs of Western Prosperity. Cambridge: Polity

Martin, Michaela (2009) On the Relationship of External Quality Assurance and Equity: Can they Converge on National Policy Agendas?, Quality in Higher Education, 15:3, 251-262

Martin, Michaela (Ed.) (2010) Equity and Quality Assurance: A marriage of two minds. Paris: UNESCO/Institute for Educational Planning

Mignolo, Walter D. (2007) DELINKING, Cultural Studies, 21:2-3, 449-514

Mignolo, Walter D. (2009) Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and Decolonial Freedom, Theory, Culture & Society, 26(7–8), 159–181

Newsinger, John (2016) Why Rhodes Must Fall.

QQI (2016) ‘Quality in an Era of Diminishing Resources’ Irish Higher Education 2008-15. Dublin: QQI

Richardson, William Jamal (2018) Understanding Eurocentrism as a Structural Problem of Undone Science, in G. K. Bhambra, D.Gebrial and K Nişancıoğlu (Eds.) Decolonising the University. London: Pluto Press, 231-248

Stein, Sharon (2018) Higher Education and the Im/possibility of Transformative Justice, Critical Ethnic Studies, 4, 1, 130-153

Tuck, Eve; Yang, K. Wayne (2012) ‘Decolonization is not a metaphor’, Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1,1,1-40

Yap, Chin-chin (2012) ‘Devastating history’ Art Asia Pacific Issue 78 May/June 2012 (Viewed 12 July 2019)

Contesting neo-liberal homogeneity and reclaiming epistemic heterogeneity in Education for Sustainable Development: An exploration of Post Colonial and Post Developmental philosophies of Rabindranath Tagore and Jiddu Krishnamurti

Janbee Shaik Mopidevi

Innovate Teaching Research & Advocacy Consulting (ITRAC), United Kingdom

Given the magnitude of challenges that the humanity is facing, further precipitated and accentuated by the global Corona pandemic, The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for the urgent need to develop holistic and integrated responses to various social, economic and environmental challenges humanity is facing at both the individual and collective level. The increased spread of globalisation with it’s inherent euro-centric hegemony that excludes all the other epistemic discourses and diverse philosophies with a sole agenda of economic rationale, productivity logic and instrumental purpose of education has been critiqued to be insufficient to tackle the unprecedented nature of challenges and to ensure epistemic justice and emancipatory purpose of education. There are calls and urgent need to fundamentally challenge and change the way we think about education and it’s role in human wellbeing and development highlighting the central role education has in fostering the right type of skills, values, attitudes and behaviours required for inclusive and sustainable development. Given this backdrop, UNESCO’s Futures of Education Initiative aims to reimagine how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet by equipping learners with diverse ways of being and knowing as opposed to Eurocentric, homogenous, linear and hegemonic discourse of knowledge systems steeped in post-colonial legacies and post-industrial power structures. Given this growing penchant for decolonising curriculum and education policies, the paper aims to present to the discourse of post-colonial and post-developmental perspectives in education by contesting post-colonial conformity and the neo-liberal homogeneity by reclaiming local and contextual epistemic philosophies as envisioned from the transformative philosophies of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Rabindranath Tagore who in their life time (and by establishing alternative independent schools) have strived to contest the factory model of schooling that often results in Psychological Dislocation and Learner Alienation and narrow instrumental focus of education with narrow economic rationale that often neglects all the other aspects that constitute holistic living and integrated human being. Instead they strived for holistic learner and universal being who can think, question and act critically to herald a just society by arguing for transformative learning that reflects the inherent mutuality of being and belonging as embedded in respective social-cultural and historical contexts, while striving for a good society based on relationships that go beyond immediate school, community, society to the entire cosmos. The significance of their ideas for countering the epistemic injustice that has along been endured in the filed of education for international development with an unilateral euro-centric view are considered and further implication of their transformative and alternative philosophies for Educational policy and as an everyday democratic and sustainable practice are explored.

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