Higher Education

The Adivasi Academy was visualised as an institution that would bring together academic study/research with grassroots development for the empowerment of Adivasi communities. With the aim of making ‘education’ engage with development, the Adivasi Academy introduced its first Post Graduate Diploma in Tribal Studies geared to study and understand 'how Adivasis perceive the world’. An intensive dialogue with the first batch of trainees all of whom belonged to Adivasi or rural communities, led to the emergence of a new philosophy of development based on self-reliance.

For a decade between 2000 and 2012, the Adivasi Academy instituted innovative courses in the areas of tribal development, culture, education, human rights, languages, museum studies and gender. Though it was not so intended, the trainees in these courses belonged to Adivasi/rural communities from across Gujarat. The courses encompassed all aspects of development concerning the tribal region in western India. As an extension to the courses, the Academy successfully established projects in various sectors as non-formal education, healthcare, micro-finance and organic agriculture. These study courses allowed Bhasha to understand the Adivasi way of life, its take on ‘development’ and the various contours of the developmental programmes being implemented in Adivasi areas. The trainees themselves embodied the transitions taking place in contemporary Adivasi society drawing attention and understanding about critical aspects as tradition and modernity, development induced marginality, sharing of natural resources and linkages with ecology, conflict and collaboration, assimilation and alienation. Most importantly, it helped Bhasha Centre and the Adivasi Academy to gain understanding of tribal knowledge systems, how these get excluded in institutions of policy making, learning and development. Their continuous endeavour to understand the Adivasi view and imbibe this in all its programmes is what makes Bhasha and the Adivasi Academy’s approach to the Adivasis different.

In a little over a decade, the Adivasi Academy mentored 320 students . Several of its past trainees are engaged in community development work in their own villages; some have set up their own community based organizations.

These courses also played a significant role in redefining Anthropology and creating Tribal Studies as a discipline in India. The Adivasi Academy participated in an international dialogue with Oxford and Durham Universities, U.K along with Tribal Studies Department in India on Engaged Anthropology and Indigenous Studies. Scholars from the Academy have contributed to the formulation of Tribal Studies courses in universities as the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya, the Indira Gandhi National Open University and Shri Govind Guru University. Presently, more organisations as the Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation and the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme are offering courses on Adivasi life and culture. The Adivasi Academy associates with these and similar organisation on course formulation and delivery.