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Short Course
Indigenous knowledge in Natural Sciences
Although the Natural Sciences CAPS curriculum calls for the inclusion of indigenous knowledge in the teaching of Natural Sciences, very few teachers were trained in indigenous knowledge systems. By including the rich South African indigenous knowledge in Natural Sciences teaching, more learners will see the relevance of Natural Sciences in our daily lives. NWU is mandated to offer this short learning programme due to its expertise in the field. There is a large potential market for NWU, as we’ll be the only university offering such a programme.

Purpose of the course:

In this short learning programme, teachers will be showed how to incorporate indigenous knowledge in the classroom using the processes of science. Participants in the course will, for instance, engage in biology, chemistry and physics laboratory investigations to validate the rich indigenous knowledge of different cultural groups, e.g. by looking at endothermic reactions related to traditional leather tanning, the chemistry involved in traditional brewing, the physics involved in traditional construction practices, and the biology of the anti-microbial actions of medicinal plants that are used traditionally. Apart from the laboratory inquiries, teachers will also be shown how to use generic methods such as De Bono’s thinking hats in the classroom. The programme also includes a visit to the Mphebatho Museum, where they will interact with the holders of indigenous knowledge. A strong emphasis will be to provide teachers with a more nuanced understanding of both the nature of science, and the nature of indigenous knowledge.

Admission requirements:

Admission requirements: 
Any teacher teaching Natural Sciences. Teachers with a teaching qualification, and at least one physics/ chemistry/ general science/ botany/ zoology module on first-year university or college level, would be preferred.
Learning assumed to be in place: 
Students registering for this short learning course should have a basic understanding of lesson planning.

Course outcomes and assessment criteria :

Course outcomes and the associated assessment criteria: 

Study Unit


Assessment Criteria

  After completion of this course, participants will: Participant will be assessed on the following criteria:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the tenets of indigenous knowledge systems, and its affordances for Natural Sciences education
  • Show mastery when discussing the basic tenets of indigenous knowledge, and motivate for its inclusion from an embodied, situated and distributed cognition perspective
  • Demonstrate knowledge and skills to effectively incorporate indigenous knowledge in the planning and presentation of lessons
  • Plan (and present) lessons in which indigenous knowledge is meaningfully integrated with the content prescribed in the CAPS curriculum
  • Demonstrate laboratory skills to investigate indigenous knowledge practices, using science-on-a-shoestring approaches.
  • Effectively facilitate laboratory investigations in physics and chemistry, using everyday materials


Students wishing to obtain a certificate of competence will be requested to submit an evidence-based portfolio.
Method of assessment: 
In these portfolios, students will have to provide lesson plans of lessons in which indigenous knowledge was incorporated. Photographic evidence should also be provided of inquiry-based, laboratory investigations that learners performed in the classroom. The portfolios will also include reflections by teachers on the lessons presented. The student must attend all the contact sessions, and must obtain a minimum of 50% for the total of the portfolio in order to receive a certificate.

Additional information

Mode of delivery: 
Target group: 
All Natural Sciences teachers (Intermediate or Senior Phase) would benefit from this short learning programme.
Contact us
Telephone number: 
018 285 2821