What if education respected the wisdom and creativity of Tribal Communities and Tribal Economies?
Imagine a space where young people have the freedom to pursue and develop their interests and skills everyday without textbooks, exams or marks; where they collaborate with each other and undertake practical experiments and entrepreneurial projects; where they interact with diverse people in their community and the world; where they are provided exposure to and guidance in inspiring methods of holistic living and democratic community leadership.
Our mission is to ignite the inner motivation/self-initiative, practical skills, emotional well-being, creativity, self-discipline, cultural self-confidence, entrepreneurship and community vision of tribal youth.
Hunarshala is open to tribal youth ages 16-25. Many of these youth have dropped out of school and have worked as migrant labor in big cities.
A poem by the late friend Abhay Xaxa (2016) captures the essence of this need to decolonise development:
I am not your data, nor am I your vote bank,
I am not your project, or any exotic museum object,
I am not the soul waiting to be harvested,
Nor am I the lab where your theories are tested,
I am not your cannon fodder, or the invisible worker,
Or your entertainment at India habitat center,
I am not your field, your crowd, your history,
Your help, your guilt, medallions of your victory,
I refuse, reject, resist your labels,
Your judgments, documents, definitions,
Your models, leaders and patrons,
Because they deny me my existence, my vision, my space,
Your words, maps, figures, indicators,
They all create illusions and put you on pedestal,
From where you look down upon me,
So I draw my own picture, and invent my own grammar,
I make my own tools to fight my own battle,
For me, my people, my world, and my Adivasi self!