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Educating for sustainability…

Publishing Date : 06 November, 2017

Author :

Dr Reginald OATS

…Through indigenizing of the school curriculum in Botswana

A close look of Botswana’s historical heritages evidently displays that there is wealth of indigenous knowledge among local people which could be packaged and integrated or infused into school curricula at all levels. It is my belief that such an approach is capable of enhancing the country’s aspirations of realising the new agenda of MDG’s.

This thinking is informed by Curriculum development studies that have started to use indigenisation as a strategy for rehabilitating and bringing back the knowledge base and viewpoints of the neglected indigenous peoples (Gumbo, 2012). Advocates of curriculum indigenisation call for the revitalising and incorporating into the curriculum of concepts of indigenous knowledge (Ismailova, 2004). Botswana could learn from Cornbleth (1990) who developed the idea of designing a curriculum that takes both the systemic (structural) and socio-cultural context of the community into account.

My believe is full to capacity that it would be cost effective, less bulky and relaxed to design and implement a curriculum that tailored the local context rather than trying to change the context itself in order to implement a totally out-of-context Curriculum as has been the practice since attainment of independence. In my view it is also logically and pedagogically sound to make a curriculum responsive to local context by reason that students are interested in learning what is near them first.This way ESD can be realised.

Along the same, when learning issues relative to students cultural heritages they become more motivated and perform more successfully in school activities (Banks and Banks, 2010; Gay, 2004). Although adding and integrating multicultural contents, concepts, themes and perspectives is seen as a viable approach, Banks (2006) argues that adding contents about cultural groups to mainstream curriculum can never change the basic assumptions, perspectives, paradigms and values of the dominant curriculum.

Indeed, this explains why, in Africa, all attempts at curriculum reform have been futile. To further illustrate this view, we have to resort to the analogy of erecting a building. Foundations determine the style and structure of building to be erected. Putting up a building on western foundations will not give us Tswana traditional “houses”. By the same token, adding contents to borrowed western curricula will not bring about substantial change in the assumptions, perspectives, paradigms and values of our curriculum.


The conceptual model of indigenisation developed by Janetius et al., (2008: 16) could be considered for adoption in constructing indigenous theories which serve as the foundations for the curriculum in Botswana. The model has four parts: (i) identifying key cultural constructs; (ii) Afrocentric qualitative research, (iii) creation of local theories and knowledge base; and (iv) incorporating the theories and knowledge base into the curriculum.

This is the long awaited radical approach of curriculum development and studies that proposes changes in curriculum studies/ research, curriculum planning and curriculum implementation. Its conceptual model consists of three stages: indigenising the foundations of the curriculum, indigenising curriculum planning and indigenising curriculum implementation. This new indigenisation approach can be made a material reality through close collaboration among curriculum researchers, planners and implementers in the form of a relay race.

It provides a way of creating a connection between curriculum theoreticians and practitioners. As such it helps maintain a bond between theory and practice in the education system (Gumbo, 2012). Expressly, indigenising the foundations of curriculum should feed into curriculum planning, while indigenising curriculum planning needs to produce a curriculum plan based on the foundations. It then needs to come up with culture-specific contents and learning experiences drawn from the findings of the curriculum researches conducted in the first stage of the model, i.e. indigenising the foundations of curriculum. When implementing the indigenised curriculum, practitioners should obviously implement the curriculum as intended.



Do you think the closure of BCL will compel SPEDU to double their efforts in creating job opportunities in the Selibe Phikwe?