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The Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Education for Community-Based Resource Management

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Shukla, Shaileshkumar; Gardner, James S.
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/979
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Global Commons
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
resource management
traditional knowledge
Abstract: "Globalization, like colonialism, homogenizes and generalizes knowledge and practice. Formal systems of education are one of the most powerful tools in the process. They are both liberating and constraining. Some of the effects of globalization in terms of knowledge and practice run counter to the more particular and local needs for sustainable environmental and resource management. The issue to be addressed in this paper is that of bridging the enormous gap between the forces of globalization and effective community-based resource management through the medium of formal education, supplemented by informal education and traditional ecological knowledge. Traditional ecological knowledge is by definition place specific and, as such, may balance some of the homogenizing and generalizing effects of globalization. "The generalizing effects of formal education as a tool of colonialism was well recognized by the likes of Gandhi and Nyerere and gave rise to their respective Basic Education and Education for Self-Reliance, components of their post-colonial visions. Each called into play variants and elements of local and traditional ecological knowledge. Community-based resource management approaches and experience, particularly with respect to common property resources, provide examples where local and particular foci can come into play effectively. One of the consequences of globalization and the attendant systems of education has been the loss or marginalization of traditional ecological knowledge, the associated knowledge systems, their practitioners and traditions and vernacular languages which are sensitive to local biodiversity (Berkes, 1999). "We argue that this need not be and that it may be detrimental to sustainable resource management. To illustrate the point, three examples from India are described and discussed. The examples provide evidence for the effective use of traditional ecological knowledge in community-based resource management and raise implications for formal systems of education. Biodiversity contests for school-age children, some of whom may be short-lived school goers, in rural Gujarat and Maharashtra demonstrate a rich, largely untapped and marginalized resource present in the community. Gram Vidyapiths or rural degree colleges in Gujarat, founded on the Gandhian model of basic education provide an example within the formal structure of education where local and traditional ecological knowledge can be used to address community resource management needs. The Medicinal Plant Conservation Centre, headquartered in Pune, Maharashtra provides several instances whereby traditional ecological knowledge may be valued and used effectively in community-based resource management."

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