Tribal Education Methodology

The project aims to develop a sustainable curriculum for young people (10-16 years of age) from the indigenous tribes (Adivasis) of Wayanad District, Kerala, India. The project is being implemented in collaboration with University of Lincoln, United Kingdom and Kerala Social Security Mission. The project will develop the TEM Toolkit by using tribal heritage, oral and performance traditions through participatory approaches and digital means. The project will undertake a youth-led Participatory Action Research (PAR) to design a tribal art-based curriculum for empowering transformative learning for advancing education as a way of reducing poverty.

For the integration of art and education to create a sustainable model of tribal education the project develops new strategies of conflict resolution through cultural means. The use of cultural memory and embodied knowledge will serve as the locus of teaching and learning. Community engagement and participatory processes will inform a new decolonized model of education embedded in indigenous epistemologies.

The impact of TEM includes the partnership with the State Education Board to integrate a sustainable model of education for the tribal youth in Kerala. Beneficiaries include young people in the community; schools in the region and informal education structures like cultural groups and religious affiliations to strengthen a grassroots and bottom-up approach to the development of the curriculum.

Aims and Objectives

In order to reduce poverty and unemployment, the proposal aims to create an innovative curriculum for out-of-school tribal youth.  The curriculum will be based on traditional folklore, and cultural performance practices, which will help youth to acquire attitudes and learning to adjust to mainstream employment markets. This curriculum will be developed based on traditional folklore and will build on learning and experience of previous initiatives undertaken in Kerala.  


Methodology of implementation

The key activities of the project include:

  • Digital documentation of the tribal oral traditions to create a tribal museum and digital archive in Wayanad (first of this kind in the State).
  • Developing an educational Toolkit for inclusive curriculum, enabling the tribal youth to achieve secondary education.
  • Setting-up a youth-led, sustainable drama club (Bamboo theatre) to inform the participatory ‘scheme of work’ of the project.
  • Consulting with Education authorities for a potential integration of the Toolkit in the State curriculum. 

Scheme Summary

TEM Project aiming at increased educational wellbeing of the group in target, the tribal youth of Wayanad, has established a robust integrative network among the target group, cultural activists, and the Government of Kerala. This networking is the result of the discovery of the gap present in Tribal Education. The project aims to solve this gap by using tribal cultural means that would help link the community with the general education framework.


The implications of the gap are in several dimensions, which involves the challenges faced by the teachers in dealing with the tribal youth and the high drop-out rate on the other end of this interaction spectrum. The achievement of the TEM Project lies in identifying this gap and bringing in measures like integration of cultural aspects in the curriculum through encouraging the youth to remember and "replay" their culture and making the holistic education environment tribal-friendly, thereby ensuring that teaching and learning are more culturally engaging.

Making culture an integral part of the education framework has particular latent implications, which are desirable consequences. Bringing together tribal youth, families, and the community in a different setting, which is that of the educational system, creates a feeling of belongingness and strengthens the group's solidarity.

The most important achievement of the project lies in the way it has strengthened the target group. Being a participatory action research project, the activities are led by the youth for the youth. Youth leadership has been a prominent factor throughout the project. They have become empowered leaders capable of addressing the issues of education and getting them addressed by the concerned stakeholders and authorities. Hence, the project could equip the tribal youth with the tools and techniques that would create a youth-led learning landscape in Wayanad.

The project has been a successful effort in initiating discussions among the different stakeholders, particularly the Government. An awareness of the several issues plaguing the tribal community was brought forth by the project through its various initiatives and activities. The project brought this dawning on the Government regarding the problems of lack of internet connectivity in the tribal hamlets, lack of recognition of tribal language and culture in the existing curriculum, and the lack of a systematic approach to classroom teaching and learning.


Component Wise details

Introductory Theatre Workshopsat 5 tribal Model Residential Schools (MRS) in January 2020: The workshops encouraged participants to explore their own cultural heritage through remembering and replaying traditional games, singing tribal songs, storytelling, games, voice modulation training and so on.

TEM Co-Ordinator Teachers’ Meeting(Jan 2020): The aim of the forum is to understand the challenges faced by teachers working in tribal schools and to develop TEM teacher coordinators to play a key role in the implementation of TEM objectives among different stakeholders in the region.

TEM Resource Group(Feb 2020): Collaborating with tribal educationalists, cultural activists and theatre practitioners, to form a TEM resource group to find creative ways to integrate TEM objectives in the school curriculum. A broader objective is to tackle the problem of high dropout rates among tribal students.

TEM Drama Club(Feb & March 2020): Led by tribal youth, these weekend drama clubs will offer opportunity for TEM educators, theatre workers, parents and community to come to the school campus and engagement with drama programs presented by the tribal residential students.

TEM Curriculum Development Workshop(Feb & March 2020): ): Padavukal, a leading theatre-in-Education company in Kerala had work with the TEM team to run a theatre integrated education model workshop in Noolpuzha MRS.

Mid-term Review Meeting (March 2020): A mid-term review of the project activities had been conducted.  Attendees were DIET representatives, Mr. Suresh and Mr. K.K. Surendran, theatre facilitators Mr. Robin and Mr. Peter, Project Manager Ms. P.E. Usha, Project Co-ordinator Mr. Baburaj and Research Assistant Ms. Pooja.

Story telling walls: A tribal Art workshop led by the leading painter, Sajitha Sankar. TEM youth learners paint the school walls with stories and myths they collected from their community and neighbourhood to make the school walls telling stories that they want to hear.

TEM Toolkitfor an inclusive curriculum is under development that will help the tribal youth to complete secondary education.

A baseline studyto collect data on internet connectivity and lack of technological capital

Ontu Nilluva safeguarding activity: To create a grass root level voluntary youth collective for spreading awareness and also to create a grass toot level redressal mechanism with regard to physical and mental wellbeing of the children and youth in the community in partnership with Mahila Samakhya Society.

Empowerment of young women leaders: Empowering young women through enhancing skills and training in oral history documentation to create a set of leaders who take pride in their roots.

Activities for out-of-school youth: Leadership and Livelihood: To create communities of out of school youth to facilitate continued education and vocational training focusing on youth aged between 14 and 18.


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