Against Epistemicide: Towards Epistemological Diversity in Zambia’s CurriculaThe Epistemicidal nature of Curriculum: the Case of Zambia’s 2013 Educational Curriculum Framework

Year: 2019

Author: Musindo, Mutinta, Sifelani

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The curriculum is more than a neutral assemblage of knowledge that appears in the education systems of a country (Apple, 1976). In Zambia as elsewhere, it is a selective tradition which is deeply involved in the politics of culture and a dominant group’s view of legitimate knowledge. Given its colonial history, Zambia’s education system was founded on the politics of exclusion and still preserves these dividing practices even after the end of colonialism. Thus, Zambia’s education system, through the coloniality of knowledge and being, is dependent on epistemological paradigms of its former colonisers. This poses a danger of perpetuating the invisibilisation of local indigenous knowledges from both curriculum policies and practices (Paraskeva, 2016). Zambia’s education has been accused of lacking relevance (UNESCO, 2016) while also excluding local indigenous knowledges; preferring instead to adopt and adapt to international neoliberal imperatives and standardisations in order to “create and maintain learning markets” (MOE, 2013, p.viii).

In questioning the colonial workings of the Zambian curriculum, the paper uses decolonial theory as ruthless critique (Darder, 2016) to examine how epistemicides through the Zambia Educational Curriculum Framework (ZECF) of 2013 have been normalised in Zambian higher education. The paper employs Mignolo’s (2011) epistemic and ontological forms of disobedience and Santos’ diaptopic hermeneutics to critically analyse the ZECF document.

The paper closes by arguing that the philosophical rationale for educational provision on which the ZCEF is based, seemingly represents local philosophy of Ubuntu, which is holistic and relational in nature. However, Zambia’s education system is founded on colonial rationality, reflecting the epistemic blindness of modern-colonial Eurocentrism. This dilemma between intention and practice has normalised the intolerance of indigenist epistemologies and ontologies from being included in the curriculum: a situation experienced by Zambian people as epistemological eugenicism. If education is to be relevant and responsive to the needs of Zambians, I defend Santos’ (2007) concept of an ecology of knowledge and propose the inclusion of local indigenous knowledges based on a co-existence of incommensurate knowledges on a non-hierarchal scale.