Integration of indigenous knowledge into the school science curricula is useful for pedagogical reasons, particularly for improving learners performance in science. However, the lack of universal and specifically stated epistemology (ies) of indigenous knowledge (IK) is undoubtedly a major challenge for inclusive science-IK curriculum integration. In this study, with the aim to resolve this epistemological challenge, an epistemological framework based on truth theories was developed.
Some IK practices were collected and the framework was tested with some science teachers to assess its effectiveness as a tool for identifying IK epistemologies for establishing suitable teaching methods for some specific IK practices. Argumentation was used in conjunction with the epistemological framework in the attempt to enhance teachers logical reasoning skills during focus group discussions.
In detail, the study consisted of three parts. The first was an attempt to develop a truth-theory-based-knowledge-framework-for-identifying-epistemology(ies)-of-indigenous-knowledge systems. Desk-top philosophical analysis was undertaken with the aim of developing a framework for analysing and identifying IK epistemologies.
Second, some selected local knowledge, technologies and practices from a rural community in Zimbabwe were systematically documented by means of personal observations and interviews with key informants and stakeholders from the participating community. The result was a collection of community-based IK practices that formed a coherent set of knowledge themes on health, agriculture and technology. A preliminary analysis using the framework was done to gain insight into the characteristic features that underpin the scientific way of thinking that manifest themselves in IK practices and would allow for the incorporation of the IK practices.
Third, a group of secondary school science teachers used the framework to engage with and explore the ways in which the identified local knowledge and practices might be integrated into school science education in a valid and effective way. The views of the participating teachers on the usefulness and efficacy of the approach were explored.
The main findings of the study showed the framework was useful and efficacious in addressing teachers philosophical concerns about the inclusion of IK in the science curriculum, moreover, the framework was useful in developing effective teaching approaches for integrating indigenous knowledge into science education for improved learner performance. IK-science curriculum integration, it is argued, provides contexts that are familiar and relatable to learners, thus those features are likely to enhance interest and improve performance and in turn increase the socio-cultural relevance of science and science education.