Decolonising education in Africa: Implementing the right to education by re-appropriating culture and indigeneity

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Abstract

Education in many African states is comparatively characterised by inadequate availability, accessibility, acceptability, and adaptability of education. Nevertheless, evaluations focusing on lack of educational infrastructure and personnel usually ignore the contextual inadequacies of educational provision in the region, and the inability of such education to equip its citizens to fit in with and benefit the societies they live in. This educational incompatibility has led to a significant level of un/underemployment, underdevelopment and ‘brain-drain’, as well as some erosion of languages and cultures.

The colonial experience reduced education to a tool of communication between the coloniser and the colonised. Emphasis on the individual and de-emphasis on community and culture, resulted in ideological dissonance. Despite post-independence attempts to reverse this, vestiges of post-coloniality in contemporary education remain and perpetuate a myth of inferiority of indigenous knowledge and methods. This deprives the world of a wider range of ways of knowing, pedagogy and epistemologies. The CESCR envisions education for the full development of the human personality of all people all over the world. Therefore international initiatives promoting the right to education in Africa should take into account the particular positionality, historicity and needs of populations.

Using theories of deconstructive post-colonialism, this article will examine Africa’s education narrative, and suggest a critical Freirian approach for decolonising education in Africa. This article contends that un-decolonised education results in epistemic violence/injustice and is thus pedagogically and ethically unsound – violating the right to education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-451
Number of pages19
JournalNorthern Ireland Legal Quarterly
Volume67
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2016

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