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Title: Exploring foundation phase teachers’ practices of infusing ubuntu in a rural KwaZulu-Natal school
Authors: Mthiyane , Thokozani Sivikele 
Keywords: Foundation teachers;Ubuntu (Philosophy);Rural schools
Issue Date: 9-Aug-2023
The transmission of African philosophy is a crucial responsibility within African indigenous
education from the community perspective. Furthermore, the valuing of indigenous
knowledge and the heritage of indigenous people is a stated principle of the National
Curriculum Statement (NCS) in South Africa. This study explored the case of Foundation
Phase teachers’ practices of infusing Ubuntu in a rural KwaZulu-Natal primary school. In
particular, the study explored teachers’ practices, as leaders, in the infusion of Ubuntu
values, attitudes and behaviour that are synonymous with an African philosophy of
education within a homogenous African indigenous rural community. Data was generated
from semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and document analyses.
Foundation Phase teachers, parents and community elders participated in the study to
answer the main research questions. The study was enhanced by using a theoretical
framework for teacher leadership that delineated the zones wherein teachers’ practices
were investigated. The framework elaborated on their roles in teaching and learning,
pedagogy, curriculum development, leading in-service education, assisting other
teachers, participating in whole school development, and collaborating with neighbouring
schools in the community. Since Ubuntu has varying nuances of meaning and practices
within different indigenous communities, the study included the local community's voice
on the authentic meaning and practices of Ubuntu. The study employed a single case
study methodology involving teachers from a typical rural primary school in KwaZulu Natal. A qualitative, interpretive approach was adopted to understand and interpret
teachers’ practices of infusing Ubuntu. Purposive and snowball sampling allowed the
researcher to access suitable school and community informants, respectively. Since
indigenous education draws meanings and practices of its philosophy from the ‘voice’ of
the local indigenous community, the study first sought to gain insight into Ubuntu from
indigenous knowledge holders in the community. Interestingly, it was found that
community understanding of Ubuntu concurred with that of the literature. Notably, it was
also found that the teachers’ understanding and practices of Ubuntu resonated with the
local community's. This was an important finding since teachers who promote the values or principles of Ubuntu need to be spiritually connected to Ubuntu to inspire learners to
sustain this philosophy for generations to come. The study’s key finding was that rural
Foundation Phase teachers endeavoured to promote indigenous philosophy and culture
embedded in an African worldview of Ubuntu. Although teachers did not set out to
explicitly enculturate Ubuntu, they were engaged in various practices, including being
exemplars of Ubuntu, indigenous pedagogy and cultural events that helped to infuse
Ubuntu philosophy. These practices were part of their interpretations of traditional African
culture and values. However, the lack of collaboration with indigenous knowledge holders
in the different zones of teachers’ practices presented a lost opportunity for teachers to
lead in the infusion of authentic indigenous wisdom into children’s education. In terms of
how they experienced their practices, it was found that social problems that affected
learners’ receptiveness and the prevalence of young parents who have opposing
influences presented a challenge to teachers’ efforts. Curriculum and administrative
constraints also burdened teachers who did not find a supportive framework for infusing
African philosophy of education into their formal professional practices. A
recommendation from the study is a proposed new framework for rural teacher leadership
in infusing African philosophy of education into the classroom. The model extends the
teacher leadership framework to include parents, elders and indigenous knowledge
holders from the local community. Additional practices that explicitly infuse African
indigenous educational philosophy, pedagogy, and methodology are included. The study
further contributes significantly to new knowledge of the status of the enactment of the
principle of valuing indigenous knowledge and African education philosophy. The study’s
findings, drawn from the local community on the meanings and practices of Ubuntu,
contribute to the field of indigenous knowledge systems
Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education at the Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2023.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Arts and Design)

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