Today, around two million tribal children are attending Factory Schools – which have similar aims: erasing indigenous ways of life and enabling the take over of lands and resources, at terrible cost to children, families and indigenous peoples.
All Indigenous peoples have the right to run education systems rooted in their own land, language and culture and which instils pride in themselves and their people – but very few are able to choose such an education for their children. It’s time for that to change.
Help us put indigenous education back under indigenous control.
Factory Schools see something “wrong” with being indigenous
The “education” they provide is intended to “correct” this. Factory Schools claim they give indigenous children the means to “succeed” in the dominant society, but history shows that Factory Schools destroy lives, causing trauma and devastation to children, their families, and their communities for generations.
Historic factory schooling
This schooling has left a painfully raw legacy in many communities, with high rates of depression, suicide, and substance abuse and contributed to the disproportionately high rates of murder and incarceration of Indigenous women and men.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded: “The Canadian government pursued this policy of cultural genocide because it wished to … gain control over [indigenous] land and resources.”
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition is calling for full investigations into the 367 schools that aimed to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children into US society and the as-yet undocumented deaths that occurred there.
Factory Schooling Today
p. In these schools, children are cut off from their homes, family, language and culture, and are often abused emotionally, physically or sexually. Just in the Indian state of Maharashtra, for example, almost 1,500 tribal children died in residential schools between 2001-2016, including over 30 suicides.
As in the US and Canada, a major objective of this schooling is to divorce Indigenous children from their connection to their land, to make it easier for governments and corporations to take their lands and resources.
Turning “liabilities” into “assets”
Big corporations and extractive industries often sponsor Factory Schools. These companies want to profit from indigenous land, labor and resources, and Factory Schools are a cheap means to try to secure this in the long term.
Destroying communities and languagesFactory Schools teach children that the beliefs and knowledge of their own people are “backwards,” inferior, or wrong.
Millions of tribal children are forbidden or discouraged from speaking their mother tongue at school. This threatens the survival of indigenous languages. The fundamental cause of language extinction is when children no longer speak the language of their parents. This is a disaster, because indigenous languages are fundamental to understanding the world we live in, who we really are and what humans are capable of.
States use schooling as a means of inculcating patriotism and quashing independence movements, such as in West Papua, where the Indonesian government is attempting to “Indonesianize” indigenous Papuans, and violently represses dissent.
Religious conversion is another motive, including Islamic missionizing schools in Bangladesh and Indonesia, Christian residential mission schools in South America and Hindu fundamentalists targeting tribal children for conversion via schooling in India. In all these examples, the aim is not only to change the child’s beliefs, but also to impose profound cultural change on the community.
A loss to all humanity
At home, tribal children learn complex and sophisticated skills and knowledge which allow them to live well on their land and nurture it for the future. Tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world. Thousands of years of collective wisdom, understanding, and insight can be lost within one generation if children are in Factory Schools, divorced from their lands, languages and ways of life.
What’s the solution?Where tribal and indigenous communities are running their own education systems – on their land and on their terms – children and families are thriving, and indigenous languages and cultures are being revitalised.
The answer is simple: indigenous education must be under indigenous control.
What is Survival doing?
Exposing the problem
We need the world to know the extent and impact of Factory Schools to help end this brutal system.