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Opportunities for emancipation and transformation through community-centred Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) research

Constance Khupe
Moyra Keane
Ann Cameron


Human rights, social justice and democracy are key pillars of the South African constitution, and also key principles of the school curriculum. Despite continued calls for research among indigenous peoples to be done in frameworks rooted in local worldviews and cultures, education research in general, and science education research in particular, is not always done in ways that promote these ideals. In this article we report on aspects of an interpretive study collaboratively done with a rural community in KwaZulu-Natal, in which an integrative research framework promoted relationship-building with participants. We adapt Vithal’s (2000; 2004) typology to develop a retrospective understanding of how negotiating the context developed the potential for emancipation and transformation for all participants.

Keywords: Community-centred research, culture, elders, indigenous knowledge, science education, transformation, ubuntu