We are the ones we’ve been waiting for: Reimagining Education in the ‘Developing World’ through an Indigenous Epistemology

Colloquium | April 15 | 4-5:30 p.m. | Berkeley Way West, Room 1215, Berkeley Way West (2121 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94720)

 Uttam Teron, Parijat Academy, Assam, India

 Graduate School of Education

Uttam Teron will discuss his vision for the relationship between education, poverty, and social change. He is the founder of Parijat Academy, a local, grassroots community school in Assam, India, that is one of the first community schools to offer a holistic education completely free of charge. It serves youth in the Pamohi region—a region where most people live on less than $5 per day. It is one of the poorest regions in India, and it is home to a large population of indigenous people. In addition, it is an area of India that is often in the periphery of research and governmental interventions.

Parijat Academy utilizes local Indigenous epistemologies to ground its work. Uttam marks this as an important aspect of education for his community because he believes that true education must honor the culture, language, and values of the people. Parijat Academy deliberately shifts from western education models to develop a local model that honors local traditions and values. Further, the school takes a comprehensive approach by situating access to food and basic needs, family, water, mother-tongue, and other important aspects of a child’s life as crucial components of learning. Parijat Academy’s guiding principle is that true education encompasses all aspects of a person's being and actively engages their entire community. Uttam will share the model Parijat Academy has developed over the years and how it has moved from serving only 4 students in one village to reaching more than 6,000 students over the years, and currently serving 500 students from a total of 17 different villages.

About the speaker. Uttam Teron is the founder of Parijat Academy, a local, grassroots community school in Assam, India. His work focuses on making education accessible to youth who otherwise would be required to engage in full-time labor as early as five years old. Uttam Teron has received numerous awards for his commitment and dedication to local, grassroots education initiatives to support his community and other local villages; the awards he has received include the Eastern Women Association Social Service Award, the Rotary Vocational Award, the Balipara Foundation Award, the CNN IBN Real Heroes Award 2011, and the Karmayogi Award of the Lions Club.

 goldwasser@berkeley.edu