August 09, 2017

In pictures: celebrating the world's indigenous and ethnic children

A boy from the Mursi indigenous peoples, a pastoralist ethnic group in Ethiopia

Photo credit: Rod Waddington

On International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, we feature children whose native or ethnic backgrounds often leave them marginalised.

Dictionary definition of indigenous: "Originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native."

They are the original inhabitants, the natives of many parts of the world. But indigenous peoples - who live in more than 90 countries - are among the most disadvantaged and marginalised.

The 370 million indigenous people make up less than 5% of the planet's population but account for 15% of the poorest people.

Poverty, discrimination and traditional practices mean their children often face barriers to education, including child labour, early marriage and language barriers - even though the majority of the world's 7000 languages are spoken by indigenous people.

The State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2016 report says: "Unfortunately, access to formal education is very difficult for many minority and indigenous children living in remote areas. 

Rohingya is an indigenous ethnic group of Burma, one of the most culturally diverse countries in the region

Photo credit: Steve Gumaer

The Lumad people are a group of indigenous peoples of the southern Philippines

Photo credit: International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines

The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada, Denmark, Russia and the United States

Photo credit: United Nations

There are many indigenous groups of Honduras including Miskito Indians, the Pech Indians, the Garifunas, the Lencas, and the Chorti Indians

Photo credit: Kevin Chang

The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa

Photo credit: Nora Morgan

The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting southern Kenya and northern Tanzania

Photo credit: World Bank

Indigenous Costa Ricans strive to keep their cultural traditions and language alive

Photo credit: Scott Robinson

Indigenous peoples of Peru include Achuar, Aguaruna, Ashaninka, Shipibo, Huambisa, Quechua and Aymara, who together comprise 45% cent of the population

Photo credit: Alan Kotok

The Berbers live in scattered communities across Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mali, Niger, and Mauretania

Photo credit: David Rosen

Dalits are at the bottom of the Hindu caste system and despite laws to protect them they still face widespread discrimination in India

Photo credit: Elton Lin

Australia's Aboriginal children often drop out of school at an early age

Zulus form the largest ethnic group in South Africa, numbering some 11 million

Photo credit: Denise Miller

"Among those who can attend, there is often a high dropout rate because of the lack of a culturally appropriate curriculum or mother tongue instruction."

But it's not only the native children of developing countries who suffer. In Nunavut - the northernmost territory of Canada - Inuit high school graduation rates are well below average and only 40% of all school-age indigenous children are at school full-time.

In Australia, young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have called for more school support from the government.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar told an education forum last week that indigenous children are still falling behind.

"How is it acceptable that our children living in remote Australia are between three and five years behind their peers by the time they reach Years 5 and 9?" she said. "That approximately 80% of children are not going to school once they reach the age of 12?"

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