EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN SÁPMI An interview study with Sámi education professionals addressing the challenges and opportunities for respecting cultural diversity in education
Sammanfattning: In connection to global ESD discourse concerning the need for education to respect cultural diversity, the aim of this study is to investigate challenges and opportunities encountered by Sámi education professionals regarding the implementation of Sámi education in Sápmi. To meet this purpose, the study addresses the following research questions:How do Sámi education professionals describe:i) culturally appropriate and locally relevant education in Sápmi?ii) challenges and opportunities for implementing culturally appropriate and locally relevant education in Sápmi? To analyze the empirical material obtained through semi-structured interviews, a theoretical framework grounded in decolonial theory, using the concept of epistemic justice and critical place-based pedagogy, is applied. The results demonstrate that culturally appropriate and locally relevant education in Sápmi is described as including content adapted to the learner’s perspective and cultural context, involving connections to the wider community through shared values, language and practices related to intergenerational learning. Further aspects include connections between Sámi culture and the living environment and its places through feelings of accountability and care, regarding them as sources and repositories of knowledge, as well as sites of connections to ancestry. Challenges for implementing Sámi education are described as dealing with the long-time consequences of colonialism, including assimilationist and discriminatory politics and attitudes, resulting in loss of language and connection to cultural heritage. Further challenges involve threats against the living environment and Sámi culture, such as increased natural resource exploitation and climate change. The widespread lack of knowledge about Sámi culture within the Swedish majority society is also affecting the integration of Sámi elements and knowledges in the Swedish education system, as well as access to resources in the Sámi education system. Opportunities for implementing Sámi education include existing Sámi schools and institutions being considered important sites for continued cultural knowledge transmission and learning, as well as symbols for the value of Sámi knowledges and culture for the Sámi themselves and the majority society. In this sense, these places of education become crucial sites, not only for supporting the cultural survival of the Sámi community, but also for protecting the cultural, linguistic and epistemological diversity of the whole region, adding important perspectives to the ongoing discussions regarding how the future should be envisioned – and educated for.
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