Community as classroom: Dilemmas of valuing African indigenous literacy in education

Ladislaus Semali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The interface between school and indigenous knowledge of local plants is rarely a focus of attention in classrooms. The transfer of indigenous knowledge from everyday life to schoolwork is not always valued or encouraged, and indigenous ways of knowing may not be recognized by teachers. This article defines and documents the interplay between indigenous folk knowledge and modern (western) curriculum practice in African schools within the framework of critical theory. It raises important questions of cultural identity at a time of economic and educational globalization. First, the author explores the definition of indigenous knowledge, second, he examines the dilemmas that undermine and undervalue efforts to integrate indigenous education in the formal school curriculum and third, he outlines the rationale for valuing indigenous literacy and makes some suggestions as to how this may be achieved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-319
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Review of Education
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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