n South African Journal of Higher Education - Scientific knowledge and higher education in the 21st century : the case against 'indigenous science'

Volume 22, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



The emphasis on 'indigenous science' is a recent phenomenon in higher education as elsewhere. There are several projects that underlie this idea: publicisation of the victimisation and exploitation of the areas of practice and research constituting 'ethnoscience', acknowledgement of their autonomy, and their inclusion in tertiary educational curricula. Appeals to indigenous scientific knowledge systems and indigenous knowledge production, therefore, have reclamation as their central focus. This article attempts to cast doubt on the plausibility of this enterprise. For anything to be called 'science', it necessarily involves reference to laws or regularities, observation, description, explanation, prediction and testable hypothesis. While practices, skills and beliefs, and the ascription or attribution of scientific knowledge may vary according to personal, social or cultural context, scientific knowledge and truth as such do not so vary. It is this insight, and not adherence to a questionable idea, that has profound implications for higher education and tertiary curricula.

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