The need for decolonisation of education
Through the perpetration and invasion of the Western militaries taking land by force and subjecting black Africans to low standard education just to keep labour force intact, and the socio-economic imbalance between the black and the white. With such a creed functioning, it is not shocking that the black schooling system was the potent weapon on the hands of the oppressors as a main purveyor of the ideology that blacks shall be taught that their culture is of less value to compared to the Western and thus black should be only prepare for work and submit to the white man. (Pam Christie & Colin Collins, 1982)
Thus black people were psychologically being robbed of our own identity, culture, our being, belonging, sour elf-awareness and self-worth as Africans, the problem we face is now how do we find ourselves in a world consisting of two paradigms: the Eurocentric paradigm taught in schools and the African paradigm we live in in our communities. As Nabudere (2005, p. 12) states, ‘The struggles for African authentic development is about an epistemological revolution and struggle for knowledge production that satis?es the demands for cultural identity.’
I make this statement and support it with the recent, relatable and irrefutable South African History. The system of oppression in the Apartheid era served not only to physically segregate the people of colour, black, it subjected them to highly severe torture and inhuman treatment, it psychologically thwarted their minds using the Bantu Education, claiming that a black child is of no good in the society.
This dark history of South Africa and all African countries which were and still are under the system of colonialism still suffer the ramifications. Thus, the recent students’ protests in higher institutions we experienced-which I will touch on later- attest to this fact that the legacy of the colonial system is still living with and amongst us.
The way to address this can be drawn from words of Dr Mandela when he said, “to be free is not to mere cast chains off but to live in a way that respects and enhance the freedom of others”. Now this statement contains two meanings. The first is that slavery and oppression can take different forms, it can’t and shall not only be limited to the physical enslavement. Exactly what Biko meant when he said “The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”, therefore attesting that the greatest battle to be fought is to set free the minds of the once colonised, and then ‘reverse psychology’ the effects done through high quality decolonised education.
The observed recent protests by the South African students nationwide under the #feesmustfall in the 10th month of the year 2014, calling for the decolonisation of education was for the same reasons. This was a revolutionary movement fighting for two main things in the South Africans schools and higher intuitions, one, that education shall be free for all as the ANC government promised in its rise to power in 1994, secondly to epistemologically decolonise the curricular in our schools, that is, it should reflect us and deal with the issues we currently facing. Although the movement managed to get the government to provide free education but the epistemological changes in the content taught in schools was not changed, but “revolution takes time and happens through stages” -Mcebo Dlamini (News, 2018)
The second meaning of the statement is very radical and grounded upon the African philosophy of Ubuntu. The philosophy that recognises all humans as humans and worthy, which many philosophers, and I, argue that this in conjunction with African Indigenous Knowledge, should be at the centre of the design of the curriculum and the pedagogy for it to speak to the African needs in Education .
Responding to the crises
We can thus respond to the current crises in our education system through the philosophy of Ubuntu and Indigenous knowledge. And this can be archived through decolonising the Eurocentric curricular which doesn’t respond nor attend to answer to the African crises due to its implementation.
Now, because of the current pedagogy is based on the Western philosophy which can be summed in one sentence: I THINK THERFORE I AM, as opposed to the African philosophy which states: I AM BECAUSE WE ARE, the education system as a result keeps on reproducing social inequalities. People are now concerned of themselves not caring of the other, thus modernisation has been driving and inclined upon individualism.
We need to shift the paradigm, decolonise the education system through African philosophy of education so it reflects indigenous knowledge. Yet, I shall, first, acknowledge that the process through which education can be decolonised is not a clear cut at the stage, but we can achieve that through implementing partially to the need of a call the 6 interpretations of decolonisation as described by ( Jansen, 2017)
• Decentralise European knowledge
• Africanisation of Knowledge
• Additive inclusive knowledge
• Critical Knowledge
• Encounters With entangled knowledge
• Repatriation of occupied knowledge
Now all these can be, and only effectively be implemented though the African Philosophy of Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is the root of African Philosophy. This is, philosophically, a hyphenated word, consisting of a prefix ubu- and the stem ntu-. Thus these are mutually founding in the essence that they are two aspects of the be-ing as one-ness and an indivisible whole-ness (Ramose, 2002) Thus Ubuntu stresses the cultural heritage of the community and further provides application principles to people faced with demands of modernisation (Msengana, 2006)
Ubuntu in simpler way may be translated as the practice in African communities where people see unity through diversity. In liberal translation it is the collective morality within the societies. (MSENGANA, 2016). Collectivisms is thus embedded in the community functioning because Africans don’t regard the community as parts of broken or integrated fragments but as a one unit. Thus the African proverb,” umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”, meaning “I am because we are”. (Mbigi, 1997:2)