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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education

For a Special Issue on

The role of IKS in STEM education for addressing the sustainable development goals

Abstract deadline
15 May 2023

Manuscript deadline
30 September 2023

Cover image - African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education

Special Issue Editor(s)

Nadaraj Govender, University of KwaZulu-Natal
[email protected]

Angela Stott, University of Free State
[email protected]

Kenneth Ngcoza, University of Rhodes
[email protected]

Sylvia Madusise, Great Zimbabwe University
[email protected]

Michael Gaotlhobogwe, University of Botswana
[email protected]

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The role of IKS in STEM education for addressing the sustainable development goals

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the 2022 Conference of Parties (COP27) climate summit with a stark warning that our planet is on a “highway to climatic hell”. That message couldn’t be clearer for all of us to accelerate our endeavors to reduce our carbon footprint. We have witnessed many losses of lives due to disasters, either natural or man-made and we need to act now. Can knowledge acquired through our cultural experiences, including Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) and formal education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), support us in mitigating the effects of climate change? The last decade has also witnessed a number of research endeavors and educational efforts in IKS and in STEM from theoretical and empirical studies in addressing sustainable issues. In the last two decades, the philosophy and epistemology of IKS has been debated vigorously and a common notion of valuable localized knowledge beneficial in the 21st Century is still being researched and synthesized. Aikenhead and Ogawa (2007) outline some characteristics of a postcolonial or anti-hegemonic discourse for science education, while also indicating some difficulties with this discourse. They also offer insights of value to science educators to make connections between Eurocentric knowledge systems and other ways of knowing, thereby spanning the colonial false dichotomy between science and indigenous ways of knowing. de Beer et al. (2022) emphasizes the value of embodied, situated, and distributed cognition theory to support the argument that indigenous knowledge can contextualize science for learners from different cultural backgrounds and enhance their affective outcomes.

STEM is currently viewed as the panacea to solve problems and is widely researched and applied, but this should not detract attention from the value embodied in indigenous knowledge. This includes ecological local knowledge, traditional medicine, knowledge of weather and climate, indigenous food crops and indigenous agricultural practices (Olaniyan & Govender, 2023, in press). Despite these values, we need to better understand how such knowledge can support STEM education and contribute to addressing issues that we are facing. Although IKS is fostered in some ways through curriculum inclusion, postgraduate degrees and research, there are still some who see little value of IKS and its applications, especially in the school curriculum as the guidance and resources offered by the education departments are minimal. On the other hand, interdisciplinarity is growing in popularity. STEM and IKS education viewed from an interdisciplinary perspective can provide better nuances and insights in the way we solve our common problems through collaborative efforts. Zidny et al. (2020) in a critical review provide justification for a stronger reflection about how to include indigenous community’s knowledge into science teaching and learning such that it offers rich and authentic contexts for science learning. At the same time, they argue that such interdisciplinarity provides opportunities to reflect on views on nature and science in Western science education in promoting balanced, holistic intercultural understanding towards sustainability. Also, de F Afonso Nhalevilo (2013) implores us to seek legitimated theories to integrate IKS in order to counteract the practice of teaching IKS in science classrooms detached from its own sociocultural context. Seehawer (2018) confirms that the South African curriculum hardly contains any IK and there are no generally available teaching materials, and some of the participating teachers did not have IK, yet integration of IK was possible, for example, using the learners’ communities as indigenous resources. Mosimege (2012) argues that mathematics teachers lack the ability to make connections in their mathematics classrooms because their indigenous content knowledge is shallow. Textbooks and teacher’s guides lack sufficient local cultural mathematics content (Ethnomathematics) to enable making of connections implicit in the context of teaching. Mathematics and culture are often interconnected, making school mathematics intimately linked to the society in which it is taught (Golshani, 2023). Classrooms and learning environments cannot be isolated from the communities in which they are embedded thus integrating ethnomathematics brings mathematics closer to the social environment of the learners (Madusise, 2021). This integration provides the necessary linkage between the everyday cultural practices (IKS) of mathematics and the teaching of the abstract concepts found in school mathematics.

Gaotlhobogwe (forthcoming) argues that reforms resulting from global influences, and that come guised in technical terms such as globalization, interdisciplinarity, market economy, knowledge society, and the latest being the 4th Industrial Revolution promote western technological knowledge system (WTKS) as the only legitimate technological knowledge system. He further argues that legitimizing WTKS within indigenous contexts is not sufficient to address sustainable issues without giving Indigenous Technological Knowledge Systems (ITKS) legitimacy in the knowledge space. At the height of COVID 19, Gumbo and Gaotlhobogwe (2020) observed that a compelling reason to conduct research in African indigenous knowledge and practices to combat COVID-19 was that people who patronized indigenous/traditional doctors and sangomas included those who had access to the Western based medicine, indicating some unknown scientific or non-scientific truth about the efficacy of indigenous knowledge and practices.

Given this brief background, there is a need to interrogate the role and the pedagogical practices of IKS in STEM education in our classrooms for addressing what the United Nations has termed sustainable development goals (SDGs). Further research is needed to clarify the relationship and role of IKS in STEM education including pedagogical practices and how these twin disciplines can help address issues that plague the world, including climatic, environmental and social issues. The focus is also concerned with research conducted in or about African context.

In light of this background, we are calling for papers that reflect on this theme and shed deeper insights on the way forward.

Submission Instructions

While empirical research papers are encouraged, theoretical and methodological papers will also be accepted. The papers must be of maximum length 6000 words.


Call for papers : 30th March 2023

Abstract deadline: 15th May 2023

Notification of selection of articles: 15th June 2023

Submission of full papers: 30th September 2023

Reviews and Feedback: 30th Aug 2024 – 30th Jan 2024

Final submission: 15th June 2024

Final Editorial check:  31st July 2024

Please send abstracts to: [email protected]

and cc to SAARMSTE email: [email protected]

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article

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