Journal of Consumer Sciences

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The potential of the South African consumer studies curriculum to foster indigenous knowledge

A Du Toit


Including culture and cultural diversity in curricula contributes to the quality of education. Culture and indigenous knowledge are closely related, and the inclusion of the latter will add to the perceived value of such knowledge, as well as connect learning to the everyday lives of learners. If indigenous knowledge is to be promoted, the curricula of subjects with the potential to contribute to such learning, needs to be investigated. Consumer Studies, a secondary school subject in South Africa, includes a variety of topics in which indigenous knowledge could manifest but research is limited. An investigation into the inclusion of indigenous knowledge in the school curricula of this subject was therefore launched. This was based on a ‘two sides of the same coin’ theoretical framework. A collaborative, structured curriculum analysis approach, guided by an existing validated instrument, was used to identify incidences of, or references to, indigenous knowledge and/or culture in similar subjects in the final three years of formal schooling in eSwatini, Lesotho and South Africa. This paper only reports on the findings in the South African curriculum in this regard. It emerged that – although some indigenous knowledge is included in the curriculum for Consumer Studies – it is not prominently stated, and that references to indigenous knowledge have been reduced in the current curriculum. Recommendations are made to strengthen the indigenous knowledge in this curriculum, to the advantage of learners.

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