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Indigenous People's Rights

Indigenous Peoples’ Rights


Education International is an active participant in the activities of United Nations bodies to deal with the issue of indigenous peoples, including the Working Group on Indigenous Populations and the Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues. EI has attended the Forum’s annual sessions each year since its creation in 2002.


Education International supports the UN initiative in declaration of the first (1995-2004) and second (2005-2014) Decade of Indigenous Peoples. EI also supports the ILO Convention “Indigenous and Tribal Peoples” (1989).

The EI World Congress has passed resolutions concerning indigenous education which acknowledge that the distinct cultures and languages of indigenous people enrich the cultural heritage of humankind and deserve protection as vehicles of culture and identity. EI recognizes the crucial role that teachers, education support personnel and their organizations in the education system have in ensuring the promotion and preservation of the cultural identity of indigenous peoples.

The following resolutions have been adopted by the EI World Congresses with regard to Indigenous People’s Rights: “Resolution on Racism, Religious Intolerance” (1995), “Resolution on Indigenous Education” (1995), “Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous People’s” (1995), “Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous People’s” (1998), “Resolution on Education for Cultural Diversity” (2004), “Resolution on the Australian Government’s Incursion into Aboriginal Communities” (2007), “Resolution on Respect for Diversity” (2011), “Resolution on Language Diversity” (2015). For more information on these resolutions, click here.

EI also asked its member organizations to endorse the Coolangatta Statement which outlines the fundamental principles vital to the reform and transformation of education for indigenous peoples and represents the collective voice of indigenous peoples from around the world. The statement is the result of six years’ work that took place prior to the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education (WIPCE) in Australia in 1993. The WIPCE is the gathering of indigenous educators, researchers, and students from around the world.

EI recognizes that public education systems in different states have not always met the needs of Indigenous Peoples. Progress has been achieved in some urban areas, but much more needs to be done in rural areas. EI believes that United Nations bodies, governments and education trade unions must review, transform, and improve policies and practices in this matter in order to achieve the Education For All objective.


As stated in the “Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” passed at the 1998 Education International World Congress, EI is committed to promoting the collective rights of Indigenous peoples to self-determination and recognition of their cultural identity, including the right to learn and use their own language. To this end, EI has undertaken the following activities:

  • At the global level, EI conducts a three-year Global Survey on the Status of Indigenous Educators through its affiliates worldwide, with the first one conducted in 2001 The results of the survey are then used to prepare EI’s report on the Status of Indigenous Education, which is then presented to EI’s World Congress.

  • EI holds an Indigenous Peoples’ Forum once every three years, with the first one being held in 1998. The forum is attended by representatives from EI affiliates as well as partners such as the ILO and NOVIB (Oxfam Netherlands).

  • At the regional level, EI organizes conferences for teacher organizations to discuss issues related specifically to the indigenous people of that region. One example is the Indigenous People’s Education Conference (Asia-Pacific Region), organized by EI’s Asia-Pacific regional office and the Council of Pacific Education (COPE)

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