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UKZN INSPIRING GREATNESS AFRICAN INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: IMPLICATIONS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION J. C. Mubangizi and H.O. Kaya, University of KwaZulu-Natal

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UKZN INSPIRING GREATNESS

AFRICAN INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: IMPLICATIONS FOR HIGHER

EDUCATION

J. C. Mubangizi and H.O. Kaya, University of KwaZulu-Natal

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Structure of the Presentation

• Introduction • The Ubuntu Philosophy, Human Rights and African Indigenous Knowledge Systems• Incorporation of Human Rights into Higher Education Curriculum in Africa• African Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Higher Education: Prospects and

Challenges• The IKS Teaching Programmes at North-West University(South Africa)• The African Indigenous Knowledge Systems Signature Project at the University of

Kwazulu-Natal (South Africa)• Conclusion and Recommendations

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INTRODUCTION

• Human rights are today worldwide recognized as ideals to be

pursued by human societies• There is an African perspective that looks at the concept of human

rights rather differently. • The western idea was introduced in the legal systems of most non-

western cultures through colonialism. • This Western perspective is different from the traditional

African perspective of human rights, and has limitations as well

The African understanding of human rights includes the rights of other forms of creation.

African traditions, values and ways of knowing have always emphasized this interrelatedness of forms of creation.

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THE UBUNTU PHILOSOPHY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND AFRICAN INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS

'Ubuntu' is an African indigenous philosophy and way of knowing that offers human beings an understanding of themselves in relation with all other forms of God’s creation.

According to Ubuntu philosophy there exists a common bond or relationship between all human beings and other forms of creation.

The Zulu people of South Africa say, "Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu", - a person is a person through other persons.

John Mbiti: “I am because we are, and because we are therefore I am”.

“Ubuntu” has a universal applicability.

“Ubuntu” challenges the Eurocentric view that before colonization Africa as a continent was a tabula rasa.

Understanding human rights and incorporating them in the higher education curricular requires an acknowledgement of their relationship to the African philosophy of Ubuntu.

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INCORPORATING HUMAN RIGHTS INTO THE HIGHER EDUCATION CURRICULUM IN AFRICA

Teaching human rights at any level should usually be seen in the general context of human rights education (HRE).

At university level, the link between HRE and the human rights movement is students and human rights academics.

The incorporation of human rights into the curriculum of African universities gathered pace in the 1990s

The pace of university human rights teaching was given impetus in 2004 when the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the World Programme for Human Rights Education.

An important development that has significant implications for higher education is the diversification of human rights teaching at African universities - no longer confined to faculties but now diversifying to centres of human rights e.g. University of Pretoria, Addis Ababa University, Makerere University, and University of Fort Hare.

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AFRICAN INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS IN HIGHER EDUCATION: PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES

African indigenous knowledge Systems (AIKS) as community-based bodies of knowledge, skills, values for sustainable livelihood;

AIKS based on the “Ubuntu” philosophy and principles;

The holistic nature of AIKS integrates theory, social practice and spirituality marginalized by western knowledge systems.

AIKS are usually transmitted from one generation to the other orally through folk media and social practices.

Colonialism and apartheid marginalized AIKS in the educational system and in the search for sustainable solutions to global challenges.

Incorporation of AIKS into the education system and sustainable development is part of the transformation process from Apartheid in South Africa (National Curriculum Statements and National IKS Policy).

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THE INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS TEACHING PROGRAMME AT THE NORTH-WEST UNIVERSITY (SOUTH

AFRICA): PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES

Higher educational institutions in South Africa have tried to incorporate IKS in their core business as part of their transformation process with various successes and challenges: North-West University (2001) and University of Kwazulu-Natal (2012).

North-West University AIKS integration successes:

- Student positive attitudes toward AIKS Programme integration as it

inculcates their own experiences, culture and local languages;

- Students gaining multi-disciplinary knowledge and experiences;

- Improvement in student performance due to relationship between

curriculum and student own experiences;

- building strong relationships between students, researchers, academics

and local communities;

- Multi-and transdisciplinarity programme attracts students from African

different countries;

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Challenges of IKS Integration: North-west University

Implementation difficulties due to dominance of western education in the mindset of stakeholders.

Shortage of IKS qualified staff to teach and supervise IKS research, and lack of relevant teaching and learning materials.

Lack of support from some sections of the institutional management due to limited knowledge and awareness on the role importance of IKS in 21st Century challenges.

The attempted solutions to meet these challenges: Aggressive marketing and awareness campaigns of the IKS programmes

within and outside South Africa. Development and registration of a professional four years Bachelor of

Indigenous Knowledge Systems (BIKS) which integrates both the natural and social sciences;

Adoption of the BIKS Programme as a regional IKS programme by SADC Ministerial Conference on IKS Policy meeting in the Seychelles 2009.

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INTEGRATION OF AFRICAN INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS (AIKS) INTO RESEARCH, TEACHING AND COMMUNITY

ENGAGEMENT AT THE UNIVESITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL (UKZN)

The rationale and motivation of AIKS integration into institutional core business:

- historical background of the institution’s apartheid racial past;

- in-line with institutional vision and mission of becoming the premier

university of African scholarship. AIKS as one of the strategies to give definition and form the concept of

‘a truly South African scholarship’. Inclusion of AIKS in the institutional Strategic Plan. Review of institutional IKS Capacity (2009)- research, teaching and

community engagement resources; Appointment of a Research Leader to provide leadership and coordination

of AIKS integration process; The AIKS integration process activities: stakeholder consultation for a

buy-in; identification of AIKS champions and constitution of AIKS working group; creation of AIKS database; development of AIKS policy.

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Conclusion and Recommendations

Higher education  and  human rights  as they  exist today in Africa have  been viewed  as promoting western individualism  rather than the  collective  and integrative values  of  Ubuntu.

The incorporation of human rights in the curriculum of higher education institutions ought to be done in such a way that it helps to promote an understanding of the value of human rights and its role in fostering a sense of social responsibility and addressing societal and global problems.

Majority of Africans depend on AIKS for sustainable livelihood.  AIKS need to be incorporated into higher education system (HES) to enhance

(HES) relevance in human capital development for sustainable development.