Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Sustainable Learning in Rural South Africa


  • Dipane Joseph Hlalele University of Kwazulu-Natal



appreciative inquiry, hegemony, storytelling, critical discourse analysis, rural teacher


Calls for a decolonized curriculum in South Africa are gaining momentum. Contrary to the school curriculum that privileges knowledge from a western perspective, indigenous knowledge systems appreciate and draw from local content and forms of knowing. A number of studies have expressed the value of indigenous knowledge systems, and the need for educational processes to be properly contextualised within the local knowledge and language in South Africa. This paper suggests a break away from the current western modalities in teaching and learning and argues for unlocking and unleashing indigenous [local and latent] knowledge systems through decolonizing the curriculum. However, the uptake of such in the midst of a longstanding 'colonized' curriculum seems to be daunting. Guided by Appreciative inquiry, the paper reports on the three rural teachers' understanding towards sustainable learning through indigenous narratives as they consciously work against western hegemony and ideology (epistemologies, ontologies and axiologies). Rural learning ecologies in South Africa are constituted by over ten million learners. The learners are expected to learn western knowledge and apply such in search of sustainable livelihoods. Data generated through these stories, analysed through critical discourse analysis (at textual, social and discursive levels). The study finds that dislodging the dominant western epistemologies demystifies authenticity of learning practices, learning content and embraces indigenous communities and their knowledge. The implication involves the appreciation of indigenous knowledge systems as genuine and acceptable knowledge that may not necessarily need to be sanctioned though western modes.

Author Biography

Dipane Joseph Hlalele, University of Kwazulu-Natal

Associate Professor: Educational Psychology

School of Education



19-02-2019 — Updated on 19-02-2019


How to Cite

Hlalele, D. J. (2019). Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Sustainable Learning in Rural South Africa. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 29(1), 88–100.