December 2007
(Volume 10, Number 6)
ISSN  1449-2091

Michael Michie

Tiwi designs by Jennifer Coombs
Munupi Arts & Crafts Association,
Pirlangimpi, Melville Island, NT

Indigenous Science Links






Green Revolution: Modern Technology vs Ecological Wisdom

By: Ely Djulia, Medan, Indonesia

In every society, growth and development are consequences of people’s changing needs from time to time. During these developments problem-solving processes can be used which make use of technologies for better lives and future welfare.

Planting rice seedlings in Indonesia

Rapid population growth has caused people to change the way they fulfil their food needs for a greater quantity in a quick time without using the traditional methods anymore. People now not only depend on nature but also use agricultural technology to produce an optimum harvest. This was popularised by the Green Revolution Movement. It aimed to improve the food production of sources of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins. Food sources of carbohydrates include rice and corn, of fat include coconuts and peanuts, and of protein include soybean and other legumes, while the source of minerals and vitamins can be utilized by consuming fruits and vegetables. 

As we know, the Green Revolution began in Mexico in 1950 in the research centre of “International Maize” and “Wheat Improvement Centre” for growing corn. By 1965 India had succeeded in producing 12 million tons of wheat which increased into 20 million tons in 1970. In Indonesia the Green Revolution idea has been applied by developing agricultural technology by using two main strategies, both intensively and extensively. The first strategy focussed on developing ways of farming intensively, while the second strategy focussed on extending the area for farming. This program has been developed since 1970 called the ‘Five Efforts of Farming’, which include: 1) planting prime seed; 2) using appropriate fertilizer; 3) controlling pests; 4) managing soil; and 5) managing irrigation.

Since that time, the Green Revolution program had become one of the most important efforts widely used to increase food security in society. Since the 1960s, this movement had helped developing countries including Indonesia to increase rice production to improve food security during the 1970s into the 1980s. This effort had answered the food security problem through increased rice production.

But after 30 years, the people who applied this technology have begun to find it difficult to improve their welfare because of the risk of using technology that can not be paid by the harvest. Unfortunately this effort had also had other negative impacts such as the extinction of germ- plasm of thousands of local rice varieties, the elimination of a cooperative agricultural habit, and the subsistence farmer has become poorer. The fact that the subsistence farmer has become poorer has made the younger generation less motivated to pursue their studies or want to achieve their futures by becoming agricultural experts, even they have good potential to do so. The implication is that every effort to improve the farmers’ welfare by using technology needs to be evaluated for its sustainability. These negative impacts also gave challenges for society to cope with problem ecologically, economically, and culturally. 

Ecologically, the Green Revolution movement caused:

  1. water and soil pollution as a consequence of overuse and misuse of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Pesticides that contain chemical substances are not easy to be decomposed by micro-organisms. Consequently pesticides often accumulate in water, soil or food so that they are dangerous for humans. 

  2. the extinction of animals resulted from pesticide use. Pesticides not only killed pests but also killed others animals that were not targeted to be killed. The extinction of one species of animal can break food webs so that it can also destroy animals next on the food web. Also, the extinction of one or more species of living things can lead to the extinction of genetic diversity and germ-plasm.

  3. monoculture planting and overuse of synthetic fertilizers made the soil become poorer in certain nutrients. 

Local rice fields without irrigation

Solving life problems in society has an impact on the educational process. The green revolution that was implemented on plants including rice had an impact on the strategy of rice farming. For the majority of Indonesian people, rice farming has both economical and cultural values. Agriculture is also an indigenous educational process in traditional societies and the practices of farming are passed on from generation to generation. This can be seen as a form of their natural wisdom. On the other hand, the learning process about farming in school science is one of applying of plant metabolism phenomena which include the processes of photosynthesis and respiration in plants. The two contexts in the educational process have not been integrated into a single educational process because of geographical and instructional obstacles. It’s assumed that learning the topic on metabolism of plants is still a difficult topic both for teachers and students because it’s far removed from the students’ daily context. In the school context, most students and teachers do not acknowledge the practices of farming in a traditional society that have high values of natural wisdom. If the educational process on the two contexts (society and school) is not considered soon, there will be consequences for the future. The young generation, far removed from the root of their culture, will lose their self-esteem because they continue to achieve educational goals, in the same way as developed countries do that have not adjusted the root of their culture to their indigenous culture.

On the other hand, the rapid development by using scientific methods in developed countries should be reflected on, to be studied, considered and compared, not just a pattern to imitate directly without considering local resources. So promoting local potential concerning traditional education is one effort to construct patterns of indigenous education that expresses the unique character of each country to solve educational problems that fulfil local needs.

Considering the positive and negative impacts of applying agricultural technology such as the Green Revolution on some aspects including ecological, economic, social culture, and education, so a Science Education Program in a developing country should be different. There may be many questions that come to people such as:

a) Does the technology always answer any traditional obstacles for survival? 

b) If anyone can not avoid the negative aspect of technology, shall we keep living traditional lifestyles? 

c) Is anyone aware that technology is evidence of human effort to empower their mind to create innovations for achieving better lives?  

d) Which one is fault, the technology or the humans who negatively perceived the impact of technology? For example, a knife that can cut something, sharply but can also be sharply analytical. A knife will be benefit only if it is used appropriately for the right purpose, otherwise a knife can be dangerous if it's not used the proper way.  

e) When humans can not cope with the negative impact of technology, why does nature always remind us to go back to basics?

g) Is the Green Revolution made popular in developing countries since 1960s still the right way to solve food security problems  now? 

h) What should humans do to always anticipate using technology?  

i) How to harmonise relationships between humans, and between humans and nature, in developing agriculture? 

When interviewed, 3rd grade senior high school science students who come from farming families were asked about which type of farming that would be best farming for the future, whether 100% traditional farming, 50% traditional and 50% modern farming, or 100% modern farming. Some of them answered like this.

  •  “It would be better if 75% of modern and 25% of traditional because modern technology can increase its rice production”, said students from school near the city. 

  • “100% of traditional because rice resulted from traditional farming is more delicious than rice from modern farming, and in order to the traditional way of farming keep exist”, said students who live near traditional communities. 

Local rice resulting from the harvest

These students who were born after 1986 commonly have no experience about how their parents farm traditionally. When they help their parents with the farming they find modern farming. They really know that their parents work so hard both physically and financially to farm everyday. The students found the fact that farming is a physically hard-work, high cost, but not enough income to fulfil their needs. Their parents suggest to them that they do not to continue to be farmers, unlike their parents did. Does it mean that farmers will be a rare profession for the future? If there are not farming activity where can we get the rice we consume? The students were silent. It is not easy to answer this question. 

Applying the developments of science and technology can have positive and negative aspects. On one hand there have emerged many innovations to improve social welfare. On the other hand, however it has also exploited natural resources to produce many tools and devices without considering sustainability, as we can see from many of the impacts of the Green Revolution. This is also a challenge to science education, to appreciate the positive and negative impacts of technology wisely. It is highly indispensable for educator to approach science from the perspective of the cultural context where student live and study to bring the students to their potential so that they could perceive any impact of science and technology and follow it up by making their right choice for the future. 

Ely Djulia teaches in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and Mathematics, Medan State University, Indonesia. She is interested in the use of traditional knowledge in agriculture and has had other similar articles published in the Indigenous Science Network Bulletin in October 2005 and June 2006. She can be contacted by email at


Change of Federal Government in Australia

This Bulletin is generally non-political but the recent change in the Federal government in Australia just couldn't go unmentioned. A new Labor government was elected on 24 November 2007 to replace the Liberal/National coalition government which had been in power for over 11 years. The new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, and Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, replace John Howard and Mal Brough, both of whom lost their seats in the parliament. Two items regarding indigenous affairs are high on the agenda, firstly an apology to Indigenous Australians (visit , and secondly the fate of the current intervention in aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory (visit 

Melbourne Wins Bid for 2008 World Indigenous Education Conference

The Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated (VAEAI) is the successful bidder to host the World Indigenous Peoples Conference: Education 2008.

VAEAI competed with several other organizations and countries to be the host of the auspicious World Indigenous People’s Conference, Education in 2008 – WIPC: E 2008. 

This international conference, held every 3 years, provides a forum for Indigenous people around the world to come together not only to share and learn from their experiences and promote best practice in Indigenous education policies, programs and practice but also to honour and celebrate their cultures and traditions.

Expecting up to 4000 delegates the WIPC.E: 2008 will be held at the Melbourne and Olympic Parks from 7th to 11th December. Cultural events associated with the Conference will be held at the Sydney Myer Music Bowl and sites of cultural significance to Indigenous people across Melbourne.

Ms Geraldine Atkinson, Chairperson of VAEAI said “this is an important event for all Indigenous Australians and educators as it will provide us with a unique opportunity to showcase initiatives and programs from across the breadth of this continent now called Australia which have a positive impact on the educational outcomes and lives of Indigenous people. We will also be able to learn about strategies and practices that have been successful for Indigenous people in a vast array of other countries. And of course, a forum like this will enable us, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders across all of Australia, to celebrate our culture and identity with each other and our friends and colleagues from overseas”.

Preparations for the conference have commenced and VAEAI will be working closely with many other people and organizations around Australia including Aboriginal Education Consultative Groups, Indigenous organizations, Educational Institutions and State and Federal Governments to ensure this event is a huge success.

For more information about WIPC.E: 2008 visit A newsletter and draft program can be found at



Diane Lucas & Colwyn Campbell (2007). Waterlilies. Palmerston, NT: Waterlily Publications. AUD$20, paperback.
This is a story of a rich Indigenous food source and of traditional life that traces a young boy's instruction in food-gathering. With his mother he learns from their Indigenous family, how to collect the edible seeds of lilies and learns to prepare this bush food. (Back cover)

This is Diane Lucas's second children's picture book, the earlier one being Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu.

International Journal of Education and Development using ICT (

Vol. 3, No. 3 (2007) of International Journal of Education and Development using ICT has now been published online at

Improving production and accessibility of agricultural information through capacity-building, networking and partnerships in the South Pacific
Danny Gerald Hunter, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Fiji

The status of Omani women in the ICT sector
Ayman Elnaggar, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman

Teaching History using a VRML Model of Erechtheum
Sarantos Psycharis, University of the Aegean, Greece

Can internet in tertiary education in Africa contribute to social and economic development?
Anna Bon, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Editorial: Using ICT for rural development
Stewart Marshall, The University of the West Indies, Barbados, West Indies & Wal Taylor,

E-learning data warehouse maintenance system for collaborative learning availability resources optimization
Akaichi Jalel, University of Tunis, Tunisia

Introducing educational computer programmes through evaluation: A case in South African disadvantaged schools
Johnnie W. F. Muwanga-Zake, University of New England, Australia

Adoption and usage of ICT in developing countries: Case of Ugandan firms
Joseph K. Ssewanyana, Makerere University Business School & Michael Busler, Department of Public Relations, Rowan University, USA

Construct validation of a measurement tool for indicators of information and communication technologies: ICT indicators measurement scale (ICTIMS)
Yavuz Akbulut, Anadolu University, Mehmet Kesim, Anadolu University & Ferhan H. Odabasi, Anadolu University

Researching a participatory design for learning process in an intercultural context
Gordon M Joyes, University of Nottingham, UK & Zehang Chen, Beijing Normal University, China

The Innovative elements in non-formal education of Bangladesh: Perspective of income generating programmes for poverty alleviation
Md. Rezaul Islam, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh & Ahmadullah Mia, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Bangladesh

Effectiveness of video as an instructional medium in teaching rural children agricultural and environmental sciences
Babalola Tajudeen Isiaka, Lagos State University, Nigeria


Eighth International Conference on Diversity in Organisations, Communities and  Nations
HEC (Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales), University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 17-20 June 2008

The Diversity Conference has a history of bringing together scholarly, government and practice-based participants with an interest in the issues of diversity and community. The Conference examines the concept of diversity as a positive aspect of a global world and globalised society. Diversity is in many ways reflective of our present world order, but there are ways of taking this further without necessary engendering its alternatives: racism, conflict, discrimination and inequity. Diversity as a mode of social existence can be projected in ways that deepen the range of human experience. The Conference will seek to explore the full range of what diversity means and explore modes of diversity in real-life situations of living together in community. The Conference supports a move away from simple affirmations that 'diversity is good' to a much more nuanced account of the effects and uses of diversity on differently situated communities in the context of our current epoch of globalisation.

As well as impressive line-up of international main speakers, the Conference will also include numerous paper, workshop and colloquium presentations by practitioners, teachers and researchers. We would particularly like to invite you to respond to the Conference Call-for-Papers. Presenters may choose to submit written papers for publication in the fully refereed International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations. If you are unable to attend the Conference in person, virtual registrations are also available which allow you to submit a paper for refereeing and possible publication in this fully refereed academic Journal, as well as access to the electronic version of the Journal.

The deadline for the next round in the call for papers (a title and short abstract) is 8 November 2007. Proposals are reviewed within four weeks of submission. Full details of the Conference, including an online proposal submission form, are to be found at the Conference website -

Sixth International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities
Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey, 15-18 July 2008

The Humanities Conference and its associated International Journal of the Humanities provide a space for dialogue and publication of new knowledge which builds on the past traditions of the humanities whilst setting a renewed agenda for their future.

As well as impressive line-up of international main speakers, the Conference will also include numerous paper, workshop and colloquium presentations by practitioners, teachers and researchers. We would particularly like to invite you to respond to the Conference Call-for-Papers. Presenters may choose to submit written papers for publication in the fully refereed International Journal of New Directions in the Humanities. If you are unable to attend the Conference in person, virtual registrations are also available which allow you to submit a paper for refereeing and possible publication in this fully refereed academic Journal, as well as access to the electronic version of the Journal.

The deadline for the next round in the call for papers (a title and short abstract) is 15 November 2007. Proposals are reviewed within four weeks of submission. Full details of the Conference, including an online proposal submission form, are to be found at the Conference website -

TSCF 2008 International Social Capital Conference
"Perspectives on Social Capital and Social Inclusion", Buggiba, Malta, 19-22 September 2008.

The Social Capital Foundation invites papers and  proposals for the  TSCF 2008 International Social Capital Conference. The call will open on 2 January 2008. All papers and proposals should be submitted by 30 July 2008. For more detailed information (including guidelines, themes, submission and registration forms) please visit:.

To submit a paper, a roundtable or to volunteer to serve as a chair or discussant, please contact Papers submitted and accepted before 31 January 2008 will be inserted into the programme of the conference. Proposals are reviewed within two weeks of submission.

28th Annual Seminar of the International Society for Teacher Education (ISTE) 
 University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australian, 20-25 April, 2008.

Participants from about 25 countries attend this annual seminar and include teacher educators, researchers, policy makers and teachers from throughout the world.

ISTE seminars are different from a traditional three-day conference. The emphasis in an ISTE seminar is on the written papers brought by all participants.  Those attending join a small paper group where all members have the opportunity to read each other's paper before the group discusses the paper and provides feedback and ideas for improvement in a collegial atmosphere.  Over a period of five days the participants are able to establish an international network with like-minded colleagues.

Don't miss this unique opportunity to join a well established, international, teacher education organisation.

For further information including details for submission of abstracts, please visit the seminar website


This is mostly a summary of upcoming conferences. More details may have been given above or in previous bulletins as shown. A web-based contact is usually included. Inclusion of conferences in this list is not to be read as an endorsement of the conference.




January 2008

16-19 January: 5th International Conference on Science, Mathematics and Technology Education. "Science, mathematics and technology education beyond cultural boundaries". Udon Thani Rajabhat University, Udon Thani, Thailand. (Aug07)

31 January - 2 February: The World Universities Forum, Davos, Switzerland, (Oct07)

February 2008

20-23 February: Conference of Asian Science Education. "Science education from an Asian perspective". Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (Aug07)

March 2008

29 March - 3 April: National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) annual meeting, Baltimore, (

April 2008

20-25 April: 28th Annual Seminar of the International Society for Teacher Education (ISTE), University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia. (Dec07)

June 2008

17-20 June: Eighth International Conference on Diversity in Organisations, Communities and  Nations, HEC (Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales), University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, (Dec07)

July 2008

2-5 July: Australasian Science Education Research Association, Brisbane Qld (Aug07)

6-11 July: Australian Science Teachers Association, CONASTA57, Brisbane Qld

9-12 July: Australian Association for Environmental Education, "Environmental education up the Track: Hot topics for our community", Darwin NT. (Aug07)

15-18 July: Sixth International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey, (Dec07)

September 2008

19-22 September: TSCF 2008 International Social Capital Conference, "Perspectives on Social Capital and Social Inclusion", Buggiba, Malta. (Dec07)

December 2008

7-11 December: World Indigenous People's Conference on Education (WIPCE 2008), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


July 2009

ASERA, Deakin University. Dates and venue to be decided.


July 2010

ASERA, University of Newcastle (NSW). Dates and venue to be decided.

I would like to thank all those people who have contributed to the Indigenous Science Network Bulletin this year, and thanks also to those who've send messages of goodwill and encouragement.

To all of you, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Last updated: 1 December 2007