By incorporating local wisdom and tradition into the formal education curriculum, Jorni Odochow is enabling minority communities to confront challenges and embrace opportunities with dignity and respect for their rich heritage.
The New Idea
A member of one of Thailand's tribal groups, the Karen, Jorni sees the tremendous value of incorporating the study of traditional life and culture into Thailand's formal education system. He is working with community members and public educators to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the hill tribe communities of northern Thailand. In the process, he is establishing a respectful, constructive dialogue among members of different generations. Jorni is advocating a curriculum that puts local heritage on an equal footing with standard subjects-math, science, and Thai history-and that derives from the community's collective reflection and analysis. His approach will broaden opportunities for his tribe and, as it spreads, for other disenfranchised populations in Thailand, including other tribal groups, the rural poor, and urban slum-dwellers. In addition, he will use the process of collecting and teaching traditional knowledge, community by community, to nurture a new generation of social leaders and other civic-minded professionals.