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Map of the Indigenous-Led Education Network. More information: https://www.rutufoundation.org/indigenous-led-education/


Indigenous-led Education Network

Interactive Map

The Philippines - SPNKK

Asia - NTFP-EP

Thailand - IMPECT Association

Kenya - Sengwer Community

Uganda - FED

Costa Rica - La Lengua Bribri

Panama - FPCI

Ecuador - Allianza Ceibo


India - Keystone Foundation


It has become increasingly difficult for Indigenous communities to pass on their knowledge, language and culture.

Theory of Change

Why a Global Network on Indigenous-Led Education?


Key Audiences


Our Plan

After 10 Years

Long-Term Change

Boosting ILED initiatives and programs, thereby boosting Indigenous resilience.

Indigenous peoples in tropical forest regions are more resilient. They are leading their own education programmes, ensuring the well-being of future generations through the protection, revitalization and transfer of their languages and knowledge.

Supporters & Allies (media, academia, donors etc.)

Indigenous children and youth (and their communities).

Duty Bearers (public institutions, governments policy- and decision-makers).

To network & share knowledge.

To catalyse traction and (financial) support.

To raise awareness & increase visibility of ILED activities

Increased sharing and networking on ILED practices and initiatives.

Increased awareness among governments, donors, and other stakeholders.

Increase of successful ILED initiatives and programmes.

Increased levels of committed support for ILED programs.


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ILED Scope & Core Principles o Open to all ages & genders. o Indigenous communities in tropical forest regions (most underfunded and underexposed). o Including Indigenous (grand)parents, community leaders, teachers, educators and other knowledge holders. o Indigenous-led: activities initiated and managed by the grassroots. o All types of education (Informal, non-formal and formal education). o As a network, we focus on complementarity, not competition.

To create more traction and support for ILED initiatives, the network has developed three inter-related strands of work: 3. To raise awareness & increase visibility of ILED activities. Generating an increased awareness and visibility of ILED initiatives by: o Engaging external stakeholders through the organisation of webinars/dialogues and other outreach activities. o Producing publications, multimedia and providing inputs to relevant consultations or processes. o Celebrating successful grassroots initiatives with an annual award.

To create more traction and support for ILED initiatives, the network has developed three inter-related strands of work: 2. Catalyze traction and (financial) support: sharing funding opportunities, networks and contacts. o Administering an accessible, low-bureaucratic Small Grants Fund for inspiring ILED initiatives. Some seed funding is provided through our own organisations, but we are seeking to grow this pool of small grants by engaging new donors and supporters. o The small grants go directly to Indigenous-led, community-based and grassroots initiatives. Initiatives embedded in the communities create the biggest impact and potential for scaling up and replication.

To create more traction and support for ILED initiatives, the network has developed three inter-related strands of work: 1. Promote networking, knowledge sharing and exchanges. The facilitation of cross-cultural knowledge sharing, aimed at generating mutual support and providing ILED partners with a source of inspiration. This includes: o Local, regional and international cross-visits and exchanges on selected topics (online and offline). o Peer-to-peer learning and review of each other’s initiatives and practices, sharing general news, opportunities, and contacts. o Regional coordinators acting as a driving force in the network: supporting existing ILED activities and expanding the scope of the network, such as introducing new partners, donors and other opportunities for collaboration.

The Problem

Why a Global Network on Indigenous-Led Education?

The resilience and well-being of Indigenous communities is eroding due to many factors, including loss of language, knowledge and control over territories.

Mainstream education plays an important role as it is undermining traditional inter-generational knowledge transfer.


As a result, Indigenous communities increasingly become economically and socially dependent on outsiders.

Indigenous-led education initiatives and programs which are based on communities’ own priorities, ways of learning and empowering youth, are shown to be the most effective way to boost indigenous resilience and self-determination.

But such programs are underfunded, remain largely invisible, are considered too small, or generally not prioritized by donors, governments and others.






Resilient Indigenous Communities are better at...

Preserving their own Culture

Maintaining Social Togetherness

Sustainable Territorial & Resource Management

Effective Community Governance

Community-Based Innovations & Adaptations

Biodiversity Conservation

Food Security

Strong Health Systems

Defending their Land Rights


Resilient indigenous communities


The Problem


The Keystone Foundation aims to enhance the quality of life of Indigenous communities and the environment by using eco-development approaches to share traditions and cultures from across the region.

Communities in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (Kotagiri): Adivasi, Sholanaikans, Todas, Paniyas, Irulas, Kurumbas, Kuruchiyans, Mullukurumbas, Adiyans and Alyars peoples form part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, a hotspot of ecological diversity.

Toda family gathering honey.


Keystone foundation

The project aims to revitalize traditional modes of knowledge transmission and to share sustainable ways of living with other communities in the region.

Community Knowledge Exchange Hub & Museum by Indigenous Communities of the Nilambur Region.

ILED Initiative


The initiative will focus on the creation of a Knowledge Exchange Hub and Community Museum by the Indigenous communities of Nilambur (the Kattunaickan, Cholanaickan and Paniya peoples). A Community Museum and Resource Centre will seek to revitalise traditional modes of knowledge transmission based on oralities, and to share ideas of sustainable ways of living with communities residing in the region. In 2022, the Community Museum and Resource Centre:

  • collected and curated artefacts, stories and interviews
  • conducted workshops with community-based researchers to build local capacity
  • held exposure visits with other community-based initiatives in the Nilgiris
  • held community consultations with elders, communities and community researchers
  • conducted local outreach to schools, colleges and community groups to increase public engagement.
In 2023, ILED has confirmed funding to support the expansion of the centre and the establishment of learning groups that facilitate learning at the village or cluster level.


The Guna Peoples of Panama founded the Foundation for the Promotion of Indigenous Knowledge (FPCI) to recover and strengthen Indigenous knowledge of the environment and to promote gender-equitable participation.

Supported by the Guna General Congress, the highest traditional authority, FCPI have created an intercultural curriculum to teach the Guna language and traditional knowledge of mathematics, natural science and spirituality.



ILED Initiative

This initiative focuses on merging indigenous and mainstream education to support the development and recovery of indigenous knowledge on biodiversity and culture.

Eco-Cultural Strengthening for Young Gunas at the Level of Science Clubs, in Two schools in the Gunayala Region, Panama.


Impression of the traditionally carved canoe made by the Guna peoples.

The Project The initiative aims to:

  • strengthen the capacity of local science clubs and student leaders in environmental issues and indigenous and cultural knowledge.
  • to improve the information management on environmental and cultural issues.
It involves:
  • Eco-cultural training and participatory research by 20 students from the Félix Esteban Oller school (Narganá community) & the Olotebiliguinya school (Ustupu community).
  • Merging both Indigenous and Mainstream Education and Knowledge (in the existing science clubs).
In 2022, FCPI supported the collection and systematization of indigenous knowledge on biodiversity and Guna culture, and developed teaching materials to inform a Biodiversity Handbook. In 2023, the creation of artboards and a worktable for each school is in progress.


The Inter-Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand Association is a network of Indigenous peoples: Akha, Dara-ang, Hmong, Kachin, Lahu, Lisu, Lua, Karen, Mien and Shan peoples.

Established in 1991, IMPECT promotes Indigenous capacity-building, youth engagement, sustainable inheritance and transfer of Indigenous know-ledge through programs on Cultural Revival and Alternative Education, the Environment and Indigenous Rights.


IMPECT Association


ILED Initiative

Youth learning from the elders of the community.

The initiative seeks to develop the skills and knowledge of young leaders of the Nong Mon Tha community of Northern Thailand.

Empowering Indigenous Youth on the Transferring of Mother Tongue and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Mawakhi Community.

The Project

  • As a first part of the project, youth leaders participated in training on how to use media to create positive stories about their community values. This created a space for reflection and learning for younger and older generations.
  • The second part of the initiative centered around sharing knowledge around community products, like food processing, dyeing and designing fabrics and weaving.
  • In the future, the project will seek more opportunities for mentorship and collaboration with other initiatives for the youth leaders.


FECONAU (Federación de Comunidades Nativas de Ucayali y Afluentes) represents 30 communities in the Ucayali region: the Shipibo-Konibo, Asháninka, Isconahua and Awajun peoples.




Reunion to celebrate 40 years of defending Indigenous rights (Credits: FECONAU).

Revitalization of the Knowledge System of Medicinal Plants

FECONAU is one of the oldest Indigenous federations in the Peruvian Amazon. It was founded in 1981 following the Indigenous movement of the 70s. It is also a co-founder of the AIDESEP, one of the most important Indigenous rights organizations in Peru.

ILED Initiative

The initiative is dedicated to the revitalization of ancestral knowledge about medicinal plants and actively involves all generations.

The Project To promote knowledge of medicinal plants and fight the advance of monocultures, this initiative aims to:

  • Collect information on prevalent diseases within the population and identify necessary medicinal plants
  • Record and transcribe traditional knowledge about medicinal plants in the community, building on the knowledge of women and using the language Shipibo-Konibo
  • Create a community garden with medicinal plants using plants which are available in the community as well as required plants from other communities
  • Take care of the garden as a community and use it as a space for learning in primary and secondary education.


Alí Garcia Segura was born and raised in the indigenous Bribri community near the border between Costa Rica and Panama. He is an ethnologist and professor at the University of Costa Rica.

Alí aims to make the educational system more inclusive to local language and culture. Together with the communities, he records and documents the traditional language and wisdom and creates educational materials for children.

Costa Rica

La Lengua bribri

ILED Initiative

Kṍ tchë́l tã Sibö̀ ttékã: in the Fourth Half Sibó Spoke. Because we Believe that We Are in the Moment to Talk about our Bribri Identity.This initiative aims to share the Indigenous Bribri way of life and what it means to be Bribri with young people and to pass on ancestral knowledge.


Ùkö: the word in the Bribri language for a traditionally woven mat.

The Project o To make short videos and audio materials sharing about the Indigenous Bribri way of life, what it means to be Bribri and what Sibö̀ (creator of the Earth) has given the Bribri peoples to share in this world (our culture, the animals, plants, lands and rivers). o Broadcasting these videos and audio materials on social media to reach the youth and to pass on this ancestral knowledge: it is time to talk about our identity, through the technological tools that hold our young people captive, so that they can take a look at their own roots. Since June 2022, Ali has conducted three ‘tours’ within the community to survey both elders and students in the Lower Coen and Sös regions. His experiential methods seek to capture the perception of school education and how it is visualized in the future. Topics covered in the interactive videos include ethnomathematics, animal care and food security, Cradle Story and singing, ‘The Forest Feeds Me’, and ‘The Sacred Seat of Sibö’. In 2022, a video was developed specifically focused on gender which was showcased at the UNESCO International Mother Tongue Day.


Founded in 1990, with two independent, yet connected organizations in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.FFP is a human rights organization supporting the rights of peoples who live in forests and depend on them for their livelihoods. It aims to create political space for forest peoples to secure their rights, control their lands and decide their own futures.

FPP is a member of the ILED Team which facilitates the work of the ILED Network. Get in touch by sending an email to: caroline@forestpeoples.org

United Kingdom & the Netherlands


Focus AreasAccess to Justice Self-determination Legal & Policy Reform Building Solidarity

Children and youth hold signs for the aquatic animal conservation section of the Mae Tia River in 2008. Credits: IMPECT Association


Mission To make linguistic and cultural diversity the norm in education. All children, especially Indigenous children and children from migrant and minority backgrounds, should have every opportunity to learn in and through the languages they and their families use and understand well. They should be educated in a way that allows them to grow and flourish, well-rooted in their own languages and cultures.

RUTU is a member of the ILED Team which facilitates the work of the ILED Network. Rutu also functions as the ILED Secretariat.

The Netherlands

Rutu Foundation

Main ProgramsSurinameLanguage Friendly SchoolThe ILED NetworkHuman Rights, Language & Education


Get in touch by sending an email to:


Mission Both ENDS strengthens civil society globally to gain critical influence over decisions and activities that affect people's rights and the environment, thus guaranteeing that society fosters and protects ecosystems while ensuring respect for all human rights, including the right to water, food and a safe living environment.

Both ENDS is a member of the ILED Team which facilitates the work of the ILED Network. Get in touch by sending an email to: f.dragstra@bothends.orgpw@bothends.org

The Netherlands

Both Ends

Focus AreasClimate JusticeHuman Rights & Gender Land & Water Governance Trade & InvestmentsPublic Finance for Development

NTFP-EP is a collaborative network of NGOs and CBOs working with forest-based communities to strengthen their capacity in the sustainable management of natural resources in the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia.


Focus AreasCommunity-based ConservationSustainable LivelihoodsIndigenous Food & HealthTenure Rights & GovernanceCulture & Gender

NTFP-EP works towards forest conservation, the recognition of land rights, income generation through the creation of NTFP entreprises, food and health security, the promotion of Indigenous knowledge etc. StrategiesFaciliation of knowledge-sharing, providing technical support and training, providing inputs in strategy discussions, documentation, mobilizing resources, sourcing advocacy support etc.



Adivasi women training Adivasi youth on wild foods during the Forest Food Field School (Voices from the Forest NTFP-EP Magazine)


The Sengwer community of the Cherang’any Hills in Elgeyo-Marakwet, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot country (with different CBOs) have been fighting for the recognition of their land rights since the early 1990s.

Increased cultivation over the past two decades has resulted in land degradation and soil erosion. Growing more trees is critical to the conservation of these lands, as is children and youth learning traditional knowledge on beekeeping, and land and natural resource management.


Sengwer Community

ILED Initiative

Growing a Tree for my own Breath & Advising Others to do the Same by the Sengwer Indigenous Children


Sengwer women speaking about land rights.(Credits: Elias Kimaiyo)

The initative is aimed at educating the children of the Sengwer community of Kabolet of the importance of restoring the eroded ecosystem by growing trees. The initiative also boosts the economic resilience of women from the local tree nursery.

The Project In the first phase of the project, a total of 6,750 indigenous seedlings were planted in most destructed areas in five villages. Regular meetings at the cultural centre for community elders allowed them to pass on their indigenous knowledge of conservation, beekeeping and other areas of relevance to local children. Following the second phase (end of March 2023), the Berur women leadership, in partnership with the Kenyan Forest Service, 24,400 seedlings were planted. Berur elders also established indigenous language classes for children, which they hope to improve and expand in 2023.


SPNKK works as an umbrella organization that brings together the Federation of Negrito Tribes, including the Batak, Manide, Agta-Dumagat, Ati and Ata peoples.

The aim of SPNKK is to speak with a collective voice and work toward the development of a national platform for the advancement of Indigenous rights to land and natural resources and the promotion of cultural integrity.

The Philippines


ILED Initiative

“Proud to be Ata”: Production and Sharing of Culturally Appropriate Learning Materials with Ata Elementary Schools.

Young girl picking fruits in the Mobile Forest School


This initiative focuses on the production and sharing of culturally appropriate learning materials with Ata elementary schools to engage students with forest-oriented cultural heritage.

The Project This initiative involves the design and production of a Bilingual Illustrated Workbook inviting students on a voyage through the Ata forest-oriented cultural heritage and the landscape of their ancestral domain and the natural environment (including recipes, stories, songs, illustrations, children's drawings and pictures). It will be created by content working groups consisting of teachers, Indigenous elders and youth. Other activities: workshop "culture in education", outreach events and the creation of additional out-of-school learning materials.


FED works towards ecological sustainability, social justice and healthy living through amplifying community voices and rights, influencing policy and decision making, improving people’s livelihoods, building capacity of community participants to live in a healthy and just environment.



Founded in 2011, FED works with the Indigenous Batooro, Banyabindi, Batwa and Bunyoro communities. FED aims to bridge the gap between formal environment education and rich indigenous knowledge held by elders to include young people in conservation efforts.

Youth of Kibasi in Hakibaale, Kabarole District (mount Rwenzori region) during an environmental field tour.


ILED Initiative

Using indigenous knowledge in intergenerational Biodiversity Education

This initiative aims to identify and utilize community platforms to share indigenous knowledge with young people, and encourage conservation efforts within the community.

The Project The initiative will involve the following activities:

  • Identification of 3 community platform venues where the learning meetings will be held.
  • Hold three community sensitization meetings about the project in 3 different identified community platform canters
  • Identification of the elder facilitators who are knowledgeable in indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants.
  • Mobilization of the youth beneficiaries (both in-school and out of school) who will participate in the project.
  • Hold and facilitate 3 environmental education and medicinal plants knowledge sharing community meetings (1 in each of the community identified platform).
  • Document the learned information during the learning.


In 2011, the collaboration started to provide safe access to clean water for all families affected by oil pollution in the region. As a result of this experience, we realized that there are more needs and much more work to do. Now, together with the communities, we create different programs to help our nationalities in the defense of the territory, cultural survival and the construction of viable alternative solutions that improve the quality of life in the communities.

Focus Areas Land Rights & MappingStorytellingWater Systems & Clean WaterProtection of the EnvironmentSolar EnergyTransmission of Indigenous Knowledge & PracticesIndigenous Women


Allianza Ceibo

Alliance by the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon in Ecuador: the A’ikofan, Siekopai, Siona and Waorani peoples.

Impression of the Indigenous-led education projects of Allianza Ceibo.