The School of Social Sciences recently hosted a virtual Indaba that focused on the curriculum transformation project underpinned by decolonisation, Africanisation, and indigenisation.
The Indaba also focussed on how to integrate community involvement and entrepreneurial skills in teaching and learning in the School of Social Sciences curricula in line with the University’s teaching and learning strategy.
The Indaba featured Professor Federico Settler (UKZN); Mr Ayanda Mahlaba (Stanford University, USA); Professor George Dei (University of Toronto, Canada); Dr Janet Muthuki (UKZN); Ms Janice Ndegwa (Stanford University, USA); Professor Jess Auerbach (University of Cape Town); Dr Maserole Christina Kgari-Masondo (UKZN) and Professor Shalini Aggarwal (Chandigarh University, India).
‘Curriculum transformation is critical in addressing the development needs of the country. It presents us with the prospect of shaping the Institution’s robust engagement on what is taught and how it is taught. To advance the School’s priorities to sustain and exceed our current level of success, the Indaba drew on the experiences of scholars in the area of curriculum transformation in the field of the Social Sciences nationally and internationally,’ explained Muthuki.
Dean and Head of the School Professor Vivian Ojong reflected on the vision of Curriculum Transformation in the School stating that they ‘would revisit and revise the existing programmes and models, considering the African context and holistic experience of students.’ The use of new technologies for better education and incorporating innovative models of funding would also be considered.
Settler delivered the keynote address looking at understanding decolonisation, indigenisation, and Africanisation. He discussed the relationship of these terms and their interrelatedness in the context of teaching, practice and curriculum transformation work.
‘Contemporary technologies will become a normalized mode of online teaching and learning for many of us and immensely challenging because our students who are at home are located within material, ontological political and emotional spaces, from which they are ordinarily insulated when they’re on campus which brings to the fore decolonial or indigenous curriculum solutions,’ he explained. Settler argues that the South African university context demands this kind of indigenous pedagogy.
Dei talked to Decolonizing University Education and tailoring it to the African Context. He called for strengthening and revitalizing the African higher education through human capacity building and Indigenous knowledge generation and application. He suggested ‘creating Indigenous/African‘Centres of Excellence’ that break out of colonial dependencies and provide necessary conditions for African learners to cultivate, affirm and propagate our Indigenous sciences and knowledge, moving towards a new ‘African Multivarsity’.
Auerbach then looked at Decolonising the Social Sciences curriculum in which she posits that ‘young faculty have insights that are vital for Higher Education and that Mentorship programmes with experienced faculty are critical. Auberch reflected on her journey as a young faculty member involved in developing the curriculum from scratch at a university in Mauritius. She argued that though decoloniality was central to their work, they faced challenges such as institutional pushback from accreditors and the institution who felt that decoloniality should not be part of the brand.
Aggarwal then talked about Integrating entrepreneurship into the Social Sciences curriculum saying, ‘Entrepreneurship drives our economy. There are ways to enhance entrepreneurship in the curriculum by linking curricula to real-world business challenges, creating opportunities for students to participate in social entrepreneurship contests, partnering with businesses and even inviting business executives to deliver lectures.’
In terms of Decolonising in Practice: Case Study from A Flagship Programme, Ndegwa and Mahlaba gave introspective reflections of their experiences of decolonising history, delving into their personal lives while engaging the implications on curriculum. They argued that that the curriculum should take into cognisance that students are already historians.They further expounded on History in spaces beyond academia such as social media platforms.
In rounding up, Kgari-Masondo thanked all who attended the indaba as it revealed what the School of Social Sciences must focus on to become victors of the transformation of the curriculum”. She went on to say; “academics that are relevant in this dispensation of decolonisation are those who are radical for change, intentional about transformation and believes in social justice”. She concluded by stating that all speakers brought a clear message that decolonisation of the curriculum speaks to the humanisation of every person and is not an option.