Exploring the integrating of indigenous and Western Knowledges in South African (science) education
The article aims to contribute to the ongoing debate on quality education with regard to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4. The authors suggest that heterogeneity and plurality of epistemologies in Sub-Saharan African classrooms are not drawbacks, but important resources with regard to both student learning and sustainable development. The majority of Sub-Saharan African children grow up navigating between indigenous and so-called Western knowledge systems, which may be one reason for their low performances in Westernised education systems. Arguing that quality education needs to be responsive to students' epistemically diverse life realities, the authors introduce dialogue between epistemologies as an approach to integrating indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) with Western knowledge in education. This approach allows for critical and constructive engagement of knowledges. The article's theoretical proposals are discussed by means of a case using qualitative data from a participatory action research (PAR) study that explored the integration of IKS in science education in Makhanda, South Africa. Learning to employ, and combine, knowledges is proposed as an essential aspect of quality and sustainable education in the 21st century.
In our paper we contrast the idea(l) of an educaKon that aims at community and planetary wellbeing with the current educaKonal reality in South Africa. Drawing on our iniKaKves to integrate local indigenous knowledges (including use of home language) with the Western curriculum we address the quesKon how to approach educaKonal transformaKon despite and within the given educaKonal context. We do this through telling our narraKve stories as well as reflecKons on our research project geared towards boXom-up decolonisaKon. We offer this paper as an invitaKon to researchers worldwide to engage in scholarly debate around issues on decolonisaKon. boom up decolonisa4on, indigenous knowledges, integra4on of knowledges, science Educa4on, stories, Ubuntu
Framed within the broader discourse on decolonising African education, this article aims to contribute to the project of integrating indigenous and Western knowledges in southern African education. Following a participatory action research (PAR) cycle, a team of five South African science teachers and one German researcher explored whether and how indigenous knowledges (IK) could be integrated into the teachers’ regular classes. The article focuses on the first two phases of the PAR cycle and discusses how challenges impeding knowledge integration were solved and how science lessons that Integrated aspects of Western and indigenous knowledges were planned. While the South African science curriculum explicitly invites knowledge integration, it hardly contains any IK and there are no generally available teaching materials. Moreover, some of the participating teachers did not have IK. Yet, integration was possible, for example, through using the learners’ communities as resources, a strategy that worked well in both primary and secondary grades. The article suggests that the very practice‐oriented research process was also a process of intellectual empowerment and decolonisation. Calling on the agency of teachers, parents, community elders, traditional healers, and academics, the article argues for a bottom‐up approach to knowledge integration and to decolonising education.
In all parts of the world, researchers are addressing the colonial legacy of research. This article aims to contribute to the decolonisation of research in a sub-Saharan African context by exploring Ubuntu as an indigenous Southern African research paradigm. Drawing on lessons learnt from participatory action research with South African science teachers and on Ubuntu research literature, I develop, and reflect on, characteristics of an Ubuntu research ethics, agenda and methodology. Understood as humanness, Ubuntu encompasses a dimension of becoming human and being human. Both dimensions are realised through lived community and respectful, caring relations with other living beings and the environment. Thus, ethical protocols evolve around relating positively to others. Ubuntu research agendas contribute to strengthening community and methodologies are community based, relational and participatory. The emphasis of the article is not on presenting Ubuntu research as categorically oppositional to conventional methodologies, but on an approach to research that is grounded in indigenous African epistemologies.