Challenging the state educational system in Western Siberia: taiga school by the Tiuitiakha River

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Abstract

It is common knowledge that indigenous populations who preserve their own lifestyles that are different from the mainstream societies in their home countries face disadvantages in education all over the world. In this regard, Western Siberian reindeer herders of the Khanty, Mansi and Nenets people are no exception (cf. Hairullin 2006; Magga 2005).
The following paper tells the story of an educational experiment, developed and
organised by a Forest Nenets reindeer herding family on their ancestral land in the taiga (boreal forest) by the Tiuitiakha River in the Western Siberian Surgutsky rayon.
The organisational form and the educational idea of this taiga school challenged the state educational system based on boarding schools in central settlements often hundreds of kilometres from the reindeer herders’ campsites. Surprisingly, it was not as much the content of the school curriculum, which was almost the same as that of the boarding school in the village, but the organisation of the educational process and the context of the work of the small taiga school that differed so much from the conventional system of education.
This paper will describe the school project and its educational ideas and place them in the broader context of attempts to reform the educational system for indigenous groups in Siberia and to develop new forms of bicultural education (Kasten 1998) after the breakdown of the Soviet Union.
After thirteen years of existence, the school could not continue its work, not only because of the reluctance of the state authorities to support the experiment further, but also because other obstacles and difficulties arose, which will be described below.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustaining indigenous knowledge
Subtitle of host publicationLearning tools and community initiatives for preserving endangered languages and local cultural heritage
EditorsErich Kasten, Tjeerd de Graaf
Place of PublicationFürstenberg/Havel
PublisherKulturstiftung Sibirien
Pages129-157
ISBN (Print)978-3-942883-12-2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoEC publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameExhibitions and Symposia | SEC Publication