Different cultures have different ways of knowing and learning. Young children, especially in rural societies, learn from the living experience of their family and others in the community. In traditional worldviews life is seen as a process of joint and continuous learning, in close relationship with nature and the spiritual world. When children start school they enter a different world, dominated by modern-conventional learning concepts.  These include a one-way notion of learning, in which the teacher is the one who knows and the pupil the one who needs to learn, as well as domination of state policy and western-urban culture over indigenous and rural cultures.

Over the years, the COMPAS partners have developed methodologies to support the different ways of learning of local people, for example by enhancing informal education about local practices, introducing local experts into university training, and stimulating joint action research between farmers and students.