Partnering with Indigenous Communities to Develop an Equitable Early Childhood Education Curriculum in Odisha, India

Priti Joshi
page. 9~27 / 2021 Vol.15 No.1


In India, an economically diverse, multi-cultural and multi-lingual country marked by exceptional heterogeneity, the ECE curricula experienced by children from minority groups are usually urban, middle class-oriented, often influenced by the West. The design of these curricula tends to further exclude those already marginalized, especially with learning taking place in a language other than their mother-tongue. It was in this background that a relevant, mother-tongue based curriculum for ECE was sought to be developed for underserved indigenous communities of Odisha (in eastern India). The process focused on privileging the knowledge epistemologies and eco-cultural heritage of the indigenous communities by collaborating with them as knowledge partners and drawing from close observations of community life and children in their context. Around 30 members from the four tribal communities representing a cross-section of members were involved in this process and deliberations on the nature of the curriculum needed. The paper captures the process and its complexities, and shares the insights that emerged, for those seeking to address the educational needs of marginalised communities.

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