Indigenous Knowledge System has an important contribution towards sustainable economic development in the African continent and advancing science technology and innovation environment. The inclusion of IKS in formal education setting can contribute towards educating communities on how they can play a pivotal role in improving the livelihoods.
A cohort of twelve students graduated at the North West University-Mafikeng Campus on 24 April 2017, these students were the first cohort to register for the Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (B.IKS) after the programme was accredited by South Africa Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Council on Higher Education (CHE). The B.IKS is a four-year professional degree which has specialisation options in Agriculture, Science and Technology (S & T), Health, and Arts and Culture. The degree is offered through the Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) Center based at the Mafikeng campus of the North West University.
The Center engages in teaching, research and community outreach in the area of indigenous knowledge systems following indigenously informed paradigms and practices. The center also offers research Masters and Doctorate degree programmes for articulation of the B.IKS. The centre is one of the five South African partner institutions forming the DST-NRF Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems.
The NWU Campus rector Prof M Davhana-Maselesele on her remarks she said “when this (B.IKS) degree was instituted four years ago, who knew that today South African academia would be discussing decolonization of the knowledge economy.” This illustrates that NWU is not just on track but it’s a trailblazer in this debate.
“The IKS Center has acknowledged and celebrated the value of indigenous knowledge and indigenous people by putting indigenous knowledge so prominently on the academic menu and allowing indigenous knowledge holders within local communities to be co-instructors and co-creators of knowledge in academic settings,” said Prof SA Materechera, the IKS Centre Director and SANBio IKS regional Node coordinator.
“While this graduation marks a milestone in the lives of the individual students, it also marks a milestone in the life of all Africans who have cherished the dream of an African Renaissance. It marks a significant step toward the realization of that dream. It is significant in that this graduation takes place in the same week we celebrate Freedom Day in South Africa, because we cannot be truly free until we are free to be ourselves and free to love ourselves as Africans with our Africanness,” he concluded.
One of the graduates, Tshepiso Ndhlovu has experienced B.IKS as a transformational process. He says: “Basically, IKS changed my epistemological view on the world globally and locally, because it proclaimed and portrayed my heritage as something important to my generation. IKS has turned my reality upside down. It has revolutionized my communications; the content of what I discuss, what I post in social media is saturated with African knowledge.”
The B.IKS Coordinator Dr George Sedupane shared his vision thus: “Because the IKS Center is a NEPAD-SANBio regional node it’s my desire that four years from now we will have B.IKS graduates from all our regional partner countries. The diversity that such an interaction would offer would greatly enrich our programme. So we are open for applications.”
The significance of this graduation was marked by the presence of esteemed guests from various quarters including directors from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Culture, Arts and Traditional Affairs, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), NEPAD-SANBio, House of Traditional Leaders, the NW Premier’s Office, National Research Foundation (NRF), Indigenous Knowledge Holders, and colleagues from other universities.