20061006

 

Mobility and traditions

Time and again teachers report the challenges presented by honey gathering activities. While communities are extremely diverse and cultural generalizations are more often inaccurate than instructive, educators working with traditional forest-center communities will likely have to address the mobility factor. Promoting "sedentarization" as a way to simplify delivery of education services may not reflect adequate consideration of whether traditions that date from time immemorial and comprise a value system can - OR SHOULD - be changed. Education may instead require providing flexible, ad hoc options, including the viability of "mobile learning" as an alternative education delivery system to meet the needs of highly mobile traditional communities. Excerpt from S. Bauchet report highlights some cultural themes that educators must consider and work to accomodate in developing education programs in traditional forest-based communities: "...Camp mobility is the result of a subtle combination of different causes : food shortage, resources having been exhausted, size of the group, the requirements of visiting, proximity of neighbouring groups, and also social disruption or death. As months go by, communities come together and split up in a perpetual movement of fusion and fission. Hunting plays an essential role in the social organization. First of all because it is an activity that mobilizes the strength of all members of the community, and second because it is around hunting that evolve religious activities and the different stages of an individual's social development. There is a high level of interdependence between young people's ability in hunting, their aptitude for marriage and their participation in the big prestigious expeditions to hunt for large mammals (especially elephants). Several rituals surround hunting activities, both propitiatory and expiatory. Great symbolic value is attached to the second most important activity : collecting honey, the life-giving fluid. Collective rituals are carried out before they set out to collect honey the first time in the season (and this is the only gathering activity for which it is the case)..."

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